If you look down a level, to the more than 5,000 city and county governments in the state, you’ll see budget angst, too. But you’ll also see innovation – the growing use of new digital tools to make government not only cheaper to operate but more convenient and closer to its citizens:
• In Anaheim, Calif., the phone number 311 serves as a nonemergency hot line that allows anyone to get in touch with city hall. It’s available 24 hours a day and links residents to services such as graffiti removal, electric and water payments, housing assistance, even obtaining building codes and permits.
• In Santa Clarita, near Los Angeles, residents can go online night or day to sign up for 30 different kinds of notifications about events, register for city-sponsored classes and activities, apply for or submit permits, or ask the police to check their house during a vacation. They can even learn just how the city is spending the federal funds it receives.
• In Santa Cruz, on Monterey Bay in northern California, citizens can view an interactive crime-mapping website that allows them to see where crimes have happened.