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February 27, 2014 - Presented to the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, this handout summarizes the key features of ACA 4—the rainy-day fund proposal currently on the November 2014 statewide ballot—and the Governor’s proposal for a different rainy-day fund mechanism. California’s state tax system is highly volatile, and the state has a poor track record of setting aside reserves when times are good to help balance the budget during later economic downturns. Designing a constitutional rainy-day fund mechanism, however, involves many complexities that require detailed consideration by the state’s leaders.
January 13, 2014 - On January 9, the Governor presented a budget package with a proposed $2.3 billion reserve at the end of 2014-15. The Governor's budget seeks to address some of California's biggest budget issues. The Governor's emphasis on debt repayment is prudent, and his proposal for a new rainy-day fund requirement underscores the importance of regular state contributions to a larger budget reserve. Overall, the Governor's budget plan would place the state on an even stronger fiscal footing.
January 1, 2014 - A list of reports on the 2014-15 budget.
November 20, 2013 - The 19th annual edition of the LAO's Fiscal Outlook--a forecast of California's state General Fund revenues and expenditures over the next six years--reflects continued improvement in the state's finances. A restrained budget for 2013-14, combined with our updated forecast of increased state revenues, has produced a promising budget situation for 2014-15. Our forecast indicates that, absent any changes to current laws and policies, the state would end 2014-15 with a multibillion-dollar reserve. Continued caution is needed, however, given that these surpluses are dependent on a number of assumptions that may not come to pass. For example, as we discuss in this report, an economic downturn within the next few years could quickly result in a return to operating deficits. In this report, we outline a strategic approach for allocating potential surpluses that prepares for the next economic downturn while paying for past commitments, maintaining existing programs, and making new budgetary commitments incrementally to address other public priorities.
November 4, 2013 - The LAO’s annual California Spending Plan publication details the 2013-14 budget package, including legislative and gubernatorial actions through October 2013. (Our office released a preliminary electronic version of the report on July 30, 2013 that summarized legislative and gubernatorial actions through that date.) Major features of the 2013-14 budget plan include $2.1 billion for a new formula to distribute funding amongst schools, a state-based plan to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than one million additional low-income adults, and selected program augmentations.
August 29, 2013 - Presented to: Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
August 15, 2013 - Statements of legislative intent and requests for studies adopted during deliberations on the 2013-14 budget package.
May 31, 2013 - Presented to: Budget Conference Committee
May 17, 2013 - In the May Revision, the administration forecasts that weaker tax collections in the coming months will erode the vast majority of the $4.5 billion of unexpected tax revenues collected since January. We do not agree with the administration's view of the state's revenue situation. As a result, our forecast now is $3.2 billion higher than the administration's May Revision total for 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 combined. While the state's fiscal condition has improved, there are many good reasons for the Legislature to adopt a cautious budgetary posture. After years of "boom and bust" budgeting, California's leaders now have the opportunity to build a budget for future years that gives the state more choices about how to build reserves in times of healthy revenue growth, prioritize future state spending, and pay off past debts. Given the improved fiscal forecast, we believe this is an ideal time for the Legislature to begin addressing its huge budgetary and retirement liabilities. In addition, given various risks to the economic outlook and the state's budgetary volatility, building larger state budget reserves in the coming years is an important priority, as doing so means there will be less necessity during future downturns to cut public spending, as occurred in recent years.
March 21, 2013 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration and General Government
February 4, 2013 - We will release publications aimed at addressing the 2013-14 budget situation. These will include all major areas of the budget, including Proposition 98 and K-12 Education, Higher Education, Health, Social Services, Resources, Transportation, and Criminal Justice.
January 14, 2013 - The Governor’s proposed budget reflects the significant improvement in the state’s finances that our office identified in November. The state has now reached a point where its underlying expenditures and revenues are roughly in balance, meaning that—under our and the administration’s fiscal forecasts—state-supported program and service levels established in 2012-13 will generally continue “as is” in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Because there are still considerable risks to revenue estimates given uncertainty surrounding federal fiscal policy and the volatility inherent in our revenue system, the Governor’s focus on fiscal restraint and paying off debts is appropriate. The budget contains major proposals in education, including a new formula for funding schools and additional resources for the public university systems, and presents alternatives for implementing the federal health care reform law.
January 2, 2013 - With a state as big, as populous, and as complex as California, it would be impossible to quickly summarize how its economy or state budget works. The purpose of Cal Facts is more modest. By providing various "snapshot" pieces of information, we hope to provide the reader with a broad overview of public finance and program trends in the state. Cal Facts consists of a series of charts and tables which address questions frequently asked of our office.
November 14, 2012 - The 18th annual edition of the LAO's Fiscal Outlook--a forecast of the state's budget condition over the next five years--shows that California's budget situation has improved sharply. The state's economic recovery, prior budget cuts, and the additional, temporary taxes provided by Proposition 30 have combined to bring California to a promising moment: the possible end of a decade of acute state budget challenges. Our economic and budgetary forecast indicates that California's leaders face a dramatically smaller budget problem in 2013-14 compared to recent years. Furthermore, assuming steady economic growth and restraint in augmenting current program funding levels, there is a strong possibility of multibillion-dollar operating surpluses within a few years.
September 25, 2012 - Presented to Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, Hon. Lou Correa, Chair and Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, Hon. Paul Fong, Chair