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The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has provided fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature for 75 years. It is known for its fiscal and programmatic expertise and nonpartisan analyses of the state budget. The office serves as the "eyes and ears" for the Legislature to ensure that the executive branch is implementing legislative policy in a cost efficient and effective manner.
The office is overseen by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC), a 16-member bipartisan committee. Currently, the office has a staff of 43 analysts and approximately 13 support staff. The analytical staff cover several budget and policy areas: Criminal Justice, State Finance, Education (including K-12 and Higher Education), Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Environment, General Government (including Local Government), Transportation, and Capital Outlay and Infrastructure.
Historically, one of the most important responsibilities of the LAO has been to analyze the annual Governor's budget. In recent years, the office has presented a series of analyses from the beginning to the end of the budget process on overarching fiscal issues as well as specific departmental budget proposals and offered its recommendations for legislative action. In order to provide the Legislature with timely advice on these matters, the LAO has published its budget comments and advice in the form of separate written reports, handouts for hearings, and entries in an online list. These documents help set the agenda for the work of the Legislature's fiscal committees in developing a state budget. Staff of the office work with these committees throughout the budget process and provide public testimony on the office's recommendations.
More generally, the office is a staff resource to all legislators. The LAO also performs the following functions:
Budget "Control." The LAO reviews requests by the administration to make changes to the budget after it is enacted. These reviews are used primarily by members of the JLBC and the fiscal committees.
Special Reports. Throughout the year, the office prepares special reports on the state budget and topics of interest to the Legislature.
Initiatives and Ballot Measures. The office estimates the fiscal effect on state and local government of all proposed initiatives (prior to circulation) and prepares analyses of all measures that qualify for the statewide ballot.
Forecasting. The LAO forecasts the state revenues and expenditures.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) maintains a national reputation for providing analysis and nonpartisan advice on fiscal and policy issues to the California Legislature. The vision, mission, and values of the office are shown in the figure below. All staff are expected to adhere to the office’s values.
In advancement of the values shown above, the LAO is committed to promoting and integrating DEI in all aspects of the office’s policies, practices, and analytical products. Specifically, the office maintains ongoing efforts to:
Foster a diverse workforce to help facilitate creativity and the consideration of a wider range of perspectives and experiences in our day-to-day work and interactions.
Ensure an inclusive and equitable work place where all employees feel that they belong, that their perspectives and contributions matter, and that they are treated with dignity and respect.
Incorporate the consideration of equity—in addition to our traditional analytical lenses of efficiency and effectiveness—in our analyses, in order to ensure that we are providing the Legislature with a fuller picture of the impacts of policy proposals and programs.
Promote DEI principles in our external relationships and communications, including treating people with dignity and respect and striving to make our products accessible to a wide range of audiences.
These efforts are intended to align with and further advance the office’s mission to provide nonpartisan analysis and advice to the Legislature on fiscal and policy issues. They are also intended to underscore the LAO’s values, including providing a supportive environment and showing respect for the individual.