State Budget Condition Publications

To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.


 




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Tempered Expectations

December 9, 2019 - Under the baseline scenario in our recently released report The 2020-21 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook, we estimate California's General Fund is on track for a $7 billion surplus in 2020-21, with around $3 billion available for new, ongoing commitments. Additionally, we estimate the state's rainy day fund will grow to $18.3 by the end of 2020-21. Despite these large estimated surpluses and reserves, our central recommendation to the Legislature is to limit its new, ongoing spending commitments to approximately $1 billion or less in the 2020-21 budget. In this new installment of Fiscal Perspectives, Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek provides additional context for understanding the importance of limiting new, ongoing spending in the coming budget, with a short discussion of the state's fiscal structure, the state's economic backdrop, and other potential risks and uncertainties.

Hearing Handout

The 2020-21 Budget: Fiscal Outlook Overview

November 20, 2019 - The 2020-21 Budget: Fiscal Outlook Overview.

In addition to this handout, you can find the main California's Fiscal Outlook report along with a collection of other fiscal outlook material on our fiscal outlook budget page.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

November 20, 2019 - The annual Fiscal Outlook publication gives our office’s independent assessment of the California state budget condition for the upcoming fiscal year and over the longer term. We find the budget continues to be in good condition with an estimated $7 billion surplus in 2020-21. However, we recommend the Legislature be cautious in allocating this surplus. Specifically, we suggest the Legislature initially plan to dedicate: (1) no more than $1 billion to ongoing purposes; (2) a significant portion toward building reserves and paying down debt; and (3) focus the remaining surplus on one-time, flexible commitments that can be changed midyear if needed.

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The 2019-20 Budget: California Spending Plan—Debt Liabilities

October 17, 2019 - This post describes the debt and liability payments made as part of the 2019-20 budget package.

Report

The 2019-20 Budget: Overview of the California Spending Plan (Final Version)

October 17, 2019 - Each year, our office publishes California Spending Plan, which summarizes the annual state budget. In July, we published a preliminary version of the report. This, the final version, provides an overview of the 2019‑20 Budget Act, then highlights major features of the budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. In addition to this publication, we have released a series of issue‑specific, online posts that give more detail on the major actions in the budget package.

Correction (10/29/19): Figure 4 total.

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Managing California’s Cash

September 3, 2019 - Similar to the state’s budget situation, the state’s cash situation is now very positive. However, this has not always been—nor will it always be—the case. This report includes a history of the state's cash management situation, in particular emphasizing why the state’s cash position has improved so much. This report goes on to describe some recent and novel actions to borrow from the state's cash resources and offers policymakers a framework to evaluate any future borrowing of this nature, should a proposal to do so arise. Given that the state's cash position will inevitably change in the future, we suggest the Legislature be cautious about approving additional proposals to make loans from the state's cash resources. Assessing a proposed loan using the criteria in this report may help determine whether its benefits exceed its costs.

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The Quiet Transformation in California’s Cash Management

August 29, 2019 - In this Fiscal Perspective, Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek writes about how the building of large budget reserve balances has quietly transformed California’s cash management in recent years.

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Supplemental Report of the 2019-20 Budget Act

August 2, 2019 - The Supplemental Report of the 2019-20 Budget Act contains statements of legislative intent that were adopted during deliberations on the 2019-20 budget package. (Revised October 2019)

Hearing Handout

Overview of Reserves and Debt and Liability Payments

June 4, 2019 - Presented to: Budget Conference Committee

Hearing Handout

Conference Committee Overview

May 30, 2019 - Presented to the Budget Conference Committee

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Amid Good Fiscal Times, Planning for the Future Is Crucial

May 21, 2019 - Through the adoption of countercyclical fiscal policies, California is better able to navigate the business cycle within the constraints of its constitutional balanced budget requirement. The idea here is that in good times—when revenues are strong—the state spends somewhat below its capacity, sequestering the difference in reserves. Later, when the economy and tax receipts weaken, the state can draw upon its accumulated savings to fund a spending level above what revenues would otherwise support. Exercising spending restraint during good times promotes fiscal sustainability and dampens the need for austerity in subsequent recessions, thus, facilitating policy stability. The more robust California’s countercyclical fiscal policies are, the more the state can avoid boom-and-bust budgeting, which most policymakers view as anathema.

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The 2019-20 May Revision: Sales Tax Exemptions for Diapers and Menstrual Products

May 12, 2019 - In the May Revision, the Governor has proposed two new sales tax exemptions that would go into effect on January 1, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2021: one for menstrual products and another for children’s diapers. These exemptions would apply to the full amount of the state and local sales tax. The Governor’s proposal would require our office to submit reports evaluating these exemptions by January 1, 2021.

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The 2019-20 May Revision: Initial Comments on the Governor’s May Revision

May 12, 2019 - The Governor’s revised budget package provides updates on the administration’s estimates of revenues (in part based on collections in April, the state’s most important revenue collection month). The Governor’s May Revision also revises some January budgetary proposals and introduces some new proposals. In this post, we provide a summary of the Governor’s revised budget, primarily focusing on the state’s General Fund—the budget’s main operating account.

Correction (5/14/19): Corrected sunset dates on certain Health and Human Services proposals.

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The 2019-20 May Revision: LAO Revenue Outlook

May 12, 2019 - This post details our General Fund revenue outlook for 2017‑18 through 2022‑23. Our estimates of General Fund revenues and transfers for the “budget window”—2017‑18 through 2019‑20—are $774 million (0.2 percent) above the administration’s May 2019 revenue forecast.

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The 2019-20 May Revision: LAO Economic Outlook

May 12, 2019 - Our office just released a summary of our updated state fiscal outlook for the May Revision. Our fiscal outlook is premised on a set of economic assumptions. While our November fiscal outlook included multiple economic scenarios, this update for May focuses on only one economic scenario: continuation of moderate economic growth.

State Budget Condition Staff

Ann Hollingshead
(916) 319-8305
State Budget and Federal Funding
 
Carolyn Chu
(916) 319-8326
Chief Deputy Legislative Analyst