NAME: Jean Ross
JOB TITLE: Executive Director of the California Budget Project
Capitol Weekly: So, I hear you’re into photography.
Jean Ross: Travel photography is my latest passion. I’ve played around with
photography for a long time. It’s one of those things that once you learn a
little bit about it you realize how much more there is to learn. When I was
younger I was somewhat involved in photography but I didn’t do it for a long
CW: So you took all of these? (indicating wall of pictures behind her desk).
JR: Yes. Most of these are film. I just made the switch to digital. Digital
is a lot more fun. It’s revived my interest in photography. You can take a
lot more pictures at a lower cost, and you can do your own cropping and
digital darkroom effects. You can totally control the back end without
paying for processing. But a lot of what I like about it is I can take as
many shots as I want and just delete the bad ones.
CW: Where are your favorite places to travel?
JR: The last couple years I’ve gone to Asia a couple of times–China, Bhutan
and Thailand. China is my favorite because it’s a mixture of old and new.
The rapid pace of change–you have the extreme cutting edge next to people
plowing their fields with animals.
CW: So tell me about the California Budget Project.
JR: We’ve been in existence a little over 10 years. The organization was
founded to provide two things: a source of independent, quality analysis of
state tax and budget issues and how they impact low- and middle-income
Californians. Also, to educate and open up the budget process so low and
middle income people can have a more effective voice. We want to demystify
the budget process, to the extent that’s possible.
I have a terrific staff. Too often I get too much of the credit.
CW: So who’s been a more effective steward of the budget: Gray Davis or
JR: There is probably less difference that voters expected. California is
one of only three states that require a two-thirds vote to pass the budget.
It’s one of only 11 states that require a two-thirds vote to pass a tax
increase. That basic fact about how California is governed probably has a
greater impact on the budget than who is sitting in the corner office.
CW: So you know there is a special election about to happen