by Karl Kurtz
Another legend of legislative staffing died this week. A. Alan Post, 96, served as California's Legislative Analyst from 1950 to 1978. Post established the Legislative Analyst Office's reputation for balanced and unfearing assessments of state budget and fiscal policy, taking on governors and legislators alike. Dan Walters, long-time columnist for the Sacramento Bee, offered this assessment:
It would be difficult to overstate Post's achievement in 28 years as legislative analyst. The second person to hold the position, he established the Legislative Analyst's Office as a fiercely independent and nonpolitical source of data and advice about state finances.
His three successors stoutly maintained that approach even when their guidance on fiscal and managerial issues infuriated politicians, bureaucrats and special-interest lobbyists....
Post's successors – William Hamm, Elizabeth Hill and now Mac Taylor – maintained his rational, fact-based approach, advising legislators to do what was needed, even if politically risky, to bring budget income and outgo into balance. But governors and lawmakers just as consistently resorted to gimmicks, borrowing and bookkeeping tricks to postpone the day of reckoning.
The current legislative analyst, Mac Taylor, released this tribute:
We were saddened to hear of Alan’s passing. Alan became the second Legislative Analyst in 1950, during the office’s infancy. Over the next three decades, he built the office’s reputation for objective, nonpartisan work, turning the LAO into a national model for other states and Congress. Alan accomplished this through a strong intellect; a quiet, almost professorial manner; and a fierce determination to speak truth to power. He was unafraid of taking on Governors of either party and others to tell the Legislature and the public what he felt was the best course for the state based on sound policy and fiscal analysis. A. Alan Post was truly a giant of 20th Century California state government. We mourn his death but celebrate his legacy.
Mac is right that the LAO and Alan Post were "a national model for other states and Congress." The LAO was the first legislative fiscal office in the nation. In the 1970s, during the heyday of the creation of state legislative fiscal offices around the country (as well as the Congressional Budget Office in 1974), Alan was often consulted and cited as the model of what independent, nonpartisan fiscal analysis could do to promote legislative independence and authority. He always gave generally of his time and knowledge to other states.