Roger G. Noll, is a professor of economics emeritus at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), where he directs the program in regulatory policy.
Noll is a Democrat and has served as an advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Democrat Governor Jerry Brown and former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.
Noll provides some great insight and background as to what he believes to be the key issues with California's regulatory climate and the way California policymakers conduct business in this area.
"We have pretty much a bankrupt system, it is rare to have a bill that is well crafted," Noll stated, noting that the landmark greenhouse gas reduction bill AB 32 (2006) is an exception in part because it was carried by his Stanford colleague Joe Nation who has a Ph.D. in economics.
Noll blames term limits for "dubbing down the State Legislature" and the inability of the California Legislature to pass good regulatory policy. "Occasionally we get good things, but it's rare," Noll states.
Noll said regulatory policy is extremely difficult to get right, and commonly needs to be changed in the years following passage as the economy changes. It is not all the Legislature's fault because California tends to "hard wire everything into the constitution" through ballot measures which is the "dumbest way to do public policy imaginable," according to Noll.
Noll did not think a "moratorium" on new regulations, similar to what Arizona has done, makes sense because there are so many bad regulations on the books that need fixing.
Professor Noll says that state agencies and regulators need to be given more flexibility to consider "cost-effectiveness" for achieving regulatory goals, instead of just forcing business to jump through hoops and cut through red tape that do not provide any public benefit.
The result of bad regulation is higher prices for goods and services which is passed along to consumers, and barriers to entry for competitors, which also increases prices through decreased competition.
"We are paying more for things than we really ought to pay," Noll concludes about costly regulation, but does not believe that the costs are "not enough to drag Silicon Valley to Texas."
Many of these problems with regulations tend to stem from powerful special interests and California legislators more concerned about getting their next job than passing responsible regulation that is both workable for business, serves the intended public benefit, and are cost-effective, Noll said.
Noll is author or co-author of fourteen books and over three hundred articles and reviews. His primary research interests include technology policy; antitrust, regulation and privatization policies in both advanced and developing economies; and the economic approach to public law.
Noll has also played a prominent roll in California politics over his career, having done research for the California Constitution Revision Commission in the early 1990s and has consulted to state policymakers on many occasions with the goal of improving California government over the long-term.
Inside Source is an innovative government briefing program sponsored by the Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy.
Links to previous segments with Roger Noll:
Inside Source Special Report: Stanford Economics Professor Roger Noll Says State "Pension Problem" is the "Single Biggest Public Policy Problem" in California Politics Today
Stanford Economist Roger Noll Says California's Tax System is "Literally Unfriendly to Everyone," Major Effects of CA Minimum Wage Increase is "Structural Change" in State's Economy, Modest Increase in Wages and Unemployment