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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.
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.
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)
June 4, 2019 - Presented to: Budget Conference Committee
May 30, 2019 - Presented to the Budget Conference Committee
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 11, 2019 - The Governor proposes to allow state tax benefits for investments in alternative energy or affordable housing in communities designated as Opportunity Zones under a new federal program. Given the mixed evidence regarding the benefits of similar policies and the existence of better mechanisms to fund affordable housing, we recommend rejecting the Governor’s proposal to create a state Opportunity Zone tax benefit.
April 11, 2019 - In this Fiscal Perspective post, the Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek explains how and why—given the macroeconomic landscape—the Legislature may want to consider building larger reserves than what the governor proposed.
March 26, 2019 - When facing budget problems in the past, the state has “deferred” payments from one fiscal year into the next, providing significant one-time budgetary savings. While the state has already addressed many of its outstanding deferrals, there are still three major categories of deferrals remaining. These are related to: (1) state employee payroll, (2) pension payments, and (3) Medi-Cal payments. The Governor proposes using $1.7 billion to undo the payroll and pension deferrals. We find this would improve the state’s fiscal position and moderately improve the state’s budgetary practices, however, this approach has shortcomings relative to alternatives. This post recommends an alternative approach to the Governor’s proposal.
March 22, 2019 - In this post, we describe the Governor’s 2019-20 budget proposal to create a new office within California’s Government Operations Agency—the Office of Digital Innovation. We then provide issues for legislative consideration, including key questions about the office’s implementation and legislative oversight of its activities.
March 6, 2019 - The Select Committee on Social Determinants of Children’s Well-Being