State’s Tech Program
By Ed Goldman
A billion dollars in 2019 money is, like, a billion dollars.
I mention this because 13 years from now, you’re likely to see a sentence like this: “Back in 2019, the budget for California’s planned accounting technology improvement program went past $1 billion—which would be approximately $358 billion in 2032 money.”
After all, it’s been 15 years since the state began its initiative to overhaul its accounting tech, a main goal being to replace all of its “legacy” programs and, I imagine, its computers. This is one of the many areas in which government jargon can be misleading, since a “legacy” usually means a gift you’re thrilled to inherit, unless it’s Grandma’s varicose veins at age 10 or Grandpa’s Dumbo ears at birth. In this case, however, “legacy” means something antiquated, obsolete and possibly even foul smelling, like that science experiment in your refrigerator which started out as a 2008 fiesta salad from Trader Joe’s.
I still use a paper appointment calendar—two, in fact: a small one I can carry with me (but rarely do) and its big brother, an 81/2 x 111/4 “ spiral-bound desk version. Keeping two calendars enables me to miss an appointment entirely because I’ve entered it in one or the other booklet but generally not the one I consult the day of said appointment. At least I have a 50/50 chance of finding it.
My keyboard, if you could even distinguish the individual keys, consisted of hieroglyphics.
Even so, this is The Goldman State, not The Golden State. I don’t have the world’s fifth largest economy ($2.747 trillion). Nor do I have 235,714 employees as of this past September, according to figures from the State Controller’s Office. (Pop quiz: Until you read that, did you think anyone really controlled California? The answer appears below, upside down as a Snapchat, so hurry. The lifespan is roughly 10 seconds.)