LAO Reports

The 2012-13 Budget: Proposition 98 Maintenance Factor: An Analysis of the Governor's Treatment

May 31, 2012


The Governor’s Proposition 98 budget package is built on two main assumptions regarding the creation and payment of “maintenance factor.” These two assumptions produce unreasonable outcomes for schools and the rest of the state budget in the near term and long term. In particular, the Governor’s approach would ratchet down the Proposition 98 base in some years (including 2011-12), ratchet up the base in other years (including 2012-13), and, in some cases (including 2012-13 and 2014-15), lead to schools receiving almost exclusive benefit from any growth in state revenues. We recommend the Legislature reject the Governor’s approach and adopt a budget package based upon a more reasonable approach. Specifically, under our recommended approach, maintenance factor is created any time school funding falls below the level otherwise needed to keep pace with growth in the economy, and maintenance factor is paid such that school funding is built up to the level it otherwise would have been absent the earlier shortfalls. We believe our recommended approach both keeps the underlying rationale for the creation and payment of maintenance factor linked and goes furthest in honoring the intent of Proposition 98 and Proposition 111.