Ideas for Change

Our Ideas for Change summarizes recommendations generated from the Little Hoover Commission’s research over the past several years, and includes suggestions to streamline government programs, strengthen strategies to address critical issues facing the state, and provide crucial support to the most vulnerable among us. We encourage you to check back often as we continue our mission of bettering California government and grow this list. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Governor’s Office and members of the Legislature to enact these recommendations. Please contact our office at to discuss how we can help.  

Pedro Nava
Little Hoover Commission


Affordable Housing

Report Fact Sheet

Problem: California is short by two to three million homes to safely house its population. As a result of a limited supply, many Californians find themselves paying record prices for housing while others are priced out of the market entirely.

Recommendation: Expand the state’s affordable housing strategy, both in policy and funding, to put a greater focus on affordable home ownership; consolidate housing functions across state agencies; jumpstart affordable housing production where it is most needed by adopting the model used to attack California’s wildfire crises; reconsider how the state measures local governments’ progress toward housing goals to include how many units are actually constructed and how those units factor into California’s larger climate goals; enforce its housing requirements by creating and funding an ombudsman position in every county with the authority to approve affordable housing projects when a local jurisdiction is noncompliant with its housing element.


Problem: Artificial intelligence and automation are quickly changing the economic landscape. California lacks the leadership to prepare for the eventual ramifications.
Recommendation: Establish a cabinet level position on artificial intelligence, accompanied by a cross-agency commission to provide leadership on addressing the various policy challenges and opportunities; require agencies to include use of AI in strategic plans; require the Employment Development Department to collect and evaluate data related to jobs at-risk from new technologies.
Problem: Climate change-induced rising tides will effectively “condemn” individual pieces of private property and legally convert them into public lands. This will inevitably result in legal conflict between state government and owners of private oceanfront property.
Recommendation: Clarify the impact of sea level rise on property rights under California’s Common Law Public Trust Doctrine and create a legal framework in advance of crisis to prevent litigation and instability.
COVID-19 Recovery
Series of three reports focused on small businesses, the workforce, and children’s mental health – Reports Fact Sheet
Problem: The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on California’s small businesses and workforce and has exacerbated an already worsening crisis in children’s mental health.
Recommendation: Establish public-private partnerships to advance small enterprises. Develop a worker training plan that includes regional and statewide targets and is grounded in equity, coordination, and community outreach. Strengthen state leadership over children’s mental health and set shared outcome goals for quality of care and access to services.
Problem: Too often, it’s not easy for Californians to access critical government services.
Recommendation: Designate and empower a California Chief Customer Officer to introduce and oversee customer-centric strategies across state government.
Problem: Swings in program funding negatively impact Denti-Cal providers and disincentivize some dentists from enrolling in the program.
Recommendation: Create a more consistent and stable funding mechanism that allows participating dentists to better manage their practice; consider using Proposition 56 funds to do this. Establish an evidence-based advisory group to oversee and advise Denti-Cal and promote an expansion of teledentistry statewide.
Problem: As technology and knowledge evolve, California should take steps to improve its election infrastructure.
Recommendation: Adopt an open source election system; require the use of “risk-limiting audits” as soon as funding allows; improve the training of elections officials; and delineate standards for compliance audits.  
Problem: California’s forests are overgrown as a result of climate change and century-old fire suppression methods which leave them vulnerable to disease, insects, and fire, and degrade water supply.
Recommendation: Increase pace and scale of forest management at the watershed level, provide the resources to do so, and teach Californians why it matters.
Problem: GIS can be a powerful tool for decision-makers yet remains underutilized across government.
Recommendation: Codify the role and authority of the State Geographic Information Officer and establish a multi-agency, multi-jurisdiction body to help coordinate statewide GIS efforts.
Problem: California lacks a coordinated, cohesive strategy to prevent intimate partner violence and support survivors with their long-term needs.
Recommendation: Adopt a strategic approach to intimate partner violence focused on prevention and early intervention and designate a leader to be responsible for steering the state to this approach. Review and fund rehabilitation programs for people who are violent toward their partner. Expand housing and economic stability assistance for survivors and their dependents.
Labor Trafficking
Problem: Since criminalizing human trafficking, the state has focused on combatting sex trafficking, neglecting those trafficked for their labor in restaurants, agricultural fields, construction sites, and even private homes.
Recommendation: Create a statewide council to coordinate anti-trafficking activities; study where labor trafficking occurs and who is victimized; empower state agencies to respond; provide training to amplify detection efforts and investigations, and step-up prosecutions.
Problem: California spends millions of dollars on law enforcement training each year, yet there is very little evidence to demonstrate which types of training actually achieve intended goals and positively impact police behavior in the field – and which do not.
Recommendation: Incorporate academic research into training, assess basic training academies for effectiveness, right size entry level officer training, develop robust ongoing education, and create a more representative POST Commission.  
Problem: Some occupational licensing requirements create barriers to entry that are not justified by corresponding increases in public safety.
Recommendation: Review and adjust California licensing requirements that do not provide commensurate increases in safety. Establish “blind” data collection. Create bridge education programs for people with some experience to quickly meet California’s requirements. Create apprenticeship pathways for occupations that should be licensed so students can earn a wage while working to meet requirements.
Problem: The Governor and Legislature must act quickly to update the state’s open meetings law – the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act – to reflect new technologies and the experiences of the past year.
Recommendation: Amend Bagley-Keene to require that boards and commissions provide public access to their meetings in both a physical location and a teleconferencing option and allow for the remote participation of board and commission members without required public disclosure and public accessibility to those locations.
Problem: Weaknesses in the recall system raise concerns relating to potential overuse or abuse and the possibility of undemocratic outcomes. Some recall election procedures do not reflect current election administration. 
Recommendation: Adjust the signature requirement for recalling statewide office-holders from 12 percent of the vote in the last election for the office to 10 percent of registered voters. Replace the existing two-part recall ballot with a “snap” special recall election that places the targeted official on the ballot with all potential replacements. Make procedural changes to improve the administration of recall elections. 
Problem: Less water now flows into the Salton Sea, with serious environmental consequences.
Recommendation: Enact legislation to ensure any lawsuits filed in connection with short-term Salton Sea projects are resolved in a year or less. Streamline and expedite contracting; give engineering staff clear guidelines to ensure construction requirements align with habitat restoration.
Problem: The modernization and revitalization of this vast 615-acre campus present a unique opportunity to generate new revenue to fund veterans services.
Recommendation: Create a new, independent entity to lead the modernization of this campus and empower it to plan, design, and manage all aspects of the revitalization effort.
Issue Briefs
Issue Briefs, the Commission’s newest resource for state policymakers, provide in-depth overviews of key challenges facing California. While only Commission reports contain policy recommendations, the data and background information included in Issue Briefs provide critical context for navigating California’s most pressing issues.
As many as 2.3 million Californians lack access to broadband, hindering their ability to, among other things, access education, contribute to a productive economy, and obtain crucial government services.  
Thousands of renters, landlords, and homeowners across California – particularly those of color – are struggling to make their housing payments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critical differences between the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan warrant consideration as the state determines how to allocate its anticipated $26 billion in federal pandemic-related relief.
Findings from the Commission’s anonymous survey of active-duty California peace officers provide critical insight into the strengths and shortcomings of law enforcement training in the state.
Law enforcement basic training academies models vary across the nation and within California, from training hours and formats to attendance, passing and hiring rates, and more.
The California Rebuilding Fund has issued almost 1,200 loans in 39 California counties to help small businesses recover and grow from the COVID-19 pandemic, yet implementation challenges remain for this innovative program.