John O'Leary is a former GOVERNING contributor. He is co-author of "If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government."E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
An article from today's Wall Street Journal documents the trend in government cutbacks:
In Los Angeles this week, the mayor proposed closing most city offices for two days a week. In Colorado Springs, private donations and bake sales are being used to keep parks and pools open. In Maryland, the state is considering furloughing state workers for the second year in a row.
Welcome to the era of government doing less for its citizens. The wave is beginning at the state and local level, where it's rolling ahead in large measure because of a fiscal crunch brought on by the deep recession.
Government officials shouldn't expect the fiscal crunch to ease up once the economy recovers, either. As the federal government awaits the baby boomer crush that will drive up entitlement costs, state and local governments will have less resources making it down to their level.
Cuts shouldn't be the only alternative, however. Officials have the ability to innovate, to refocus priorities and to leverage technology to deliver services even in an era of reduced resources.