To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.
February 15, 2018 - The Governor proposes to create a three-year grant program to distribute $5 million per year to select county assessors to cover the majority of the cost of new staff and information technology upgrades. In general, there are good reasons for the state to provide funding to county assessors. We, however, suggest the Legislature consider an alternative grant program. Specifically, we suggest allocating the funding to county assessors to cover a certain portion of one-time costs for information technology upgrades.
March 23, 2017 - The Governor proposes $7 million in incentive grants for local governments to participate in the Census Bureau's Local Update Address Program in preparation for the 2020 Census. This post describes the upcoming U.S. Census and considerations for the Legislature in ensuring an accurate count.
June 30, 2016 - This report is in response to Chapter 608 of 2013 (AB 32, J. Pérez), which requires our office to evaluate the effectiveness of the tax credits allowed for qualified investments in community development financial institutions (CDFIs), with a focus on employment in low-to-moderate income and rural areas, and on the benefits of these tax credits to low-to-moderate income and rural persons.
May 27, 2016 - State law tasks the Commission on State Mandates with determining whether new state laws or regulations affecting local governments create state-reimbursable mandates. Typically, the process for determining whether a law or regulation is a state-reimbursable mandate takes several years. State law further requires our office to analyze any new mandates identified by the commission as part of our annual analysis of the proposed state budget. In particular, state law directs our office to report on the annual state costs for new mandates and make recommendations to the Legislature as to whether the new mandates should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. In this budget post, we discuss the Sheriff Court-Security Services mandate.
March 17, 2016 - Through a complex, often convoluted, process that has engendered much discussion and disagreement over the years, the state must reimburse local governments for their activities to implement certain state mandates. State law requires the Commission on State Mandates (CSM) to determine whether new state laws, executive orders, or regulations affecting local governments create state-reimbursable mandates. Generally, local governments may submit claims for state mandate payment based on one of two methods: (1) claiming of actual costs or (2) a reasonable reimbursement methodology (RRM). A budget trailer bill proposal from the administration would change the requirements for developing an RRM. We recommend the Legislature reject this proposal and perhaps consider targeted alternatives.
February 9, 2016 - In this follow up to California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences, we offer additional evidence that facilitating more private housing development in the state’s coastal urban communities would help make housing more affordable for low–income Californians.
January 13, 2016 - State law tasks the Commission on State Mandates with determining whether new state laws or regulations affecting local governments create state-reimbursable mandates. Typically, the process for determining whether a law or regulation is a state-reimbursable mandate takes several years. State law further requires our office to analyze any new mandates identified by the commission as a part of our annual analysis of the state budget. In particular, state law directs our office to report on the annual state costs for new mandates and make recommendations to the Legislature as to whether the new mandates should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. In this budget post, we discuss the Post Election Manual Tally mandate, which is the only newly identified state mandate since the 2015-16 Budget Act.
May 17, 2015 -
February 24, 2015 - This report evaluates the Governor's budget proposal to suspend the Interagency Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Reports(ICAN) mandate. To address certain limitations in the Governor's proposal, we recommend the Legislature (1) adopt the Governor’s proposal but consider augmenting the grant program’s funding to increase the likelihood of county participation, (2) require local law enforcement agencies to carry out ICAN activities as a condition of receiving certain state allocations, and (3) develop a long-term plan to retire post-2004 mandate backlog, including ICAN claims.
May 5, 2014 - During the recession, residential and commercial real estate values declined throughout California. As a result, many property owners received temporary property tax reductions as authorized by Proposition 8 (1978). In 2013-14, 3.2 million properties—about one-quarter of all properties in California—received a temporary property tax reduction. In total, temporary property tax reductions lowered local government property tax revenues by an estimated $7 billion in 2013-14, amounting to 15 percent of total property tax revenues statewide. However, real estate markets have recovered significantly over the past two years, and property tax payments for many of these property owners increased by as much as 20 percent in 2013-14. Going forward, we expect property tax payments for these owners to increase faster than 2 percent annually for several years. These increases likely will cause local property tax revenues to grow swiftly over the next several years as well.
March 20, 2014 - For about 100 years, California’s local governments generally could raise taxes without directly securing their residents’ consent. Beginning in 1978, the state’s voters amended the California Constitution several times to require that local government tax increases be approved by local voters. Recently, the Legislature has shown interest in exploring changes to voter-approval requirements for local taxes. Several proposals to place changes before the voters have been introduced during the current legislative session. This report was developed to provide context for discussions about changing these requirements. After a brief introduction to local governments in California, the report (1) summarizes the state's existing system of voter-approval requirements for local taxes, (2) explains how the state's complex voter-approval system evolved, and (3) reviews outcomes of local tax elections over the past 15 years.
March 11, 2014 - In 1990, the Legislature authorized cities and counties to form infrastructure financing districts to fund local infrastructure projects. Over the last couple decades, cities and counties rarely have used infrastructure financing districts. Instead, they have opted to use alternative methods to fund infrastructure, including using redevelopment agency funds. The dissolution of redevelopment agencies in 2011 has prompted calls for a review of the financing tools available to local governments to fund infrastructure and local economic development. The Governor’s 2014-15 budget proposes several changes to infrastructure financing districts which are intended to provide local governments with enhanced options to fund infrastructure and local economic development, as well as various other types of initiatives, such as urban infill, transit oriented development, and affordable housing. This report (1) describes the Governor’s proposal, (2) comments on various aspects the proposal, and (3) offers recommendations for the Legislature to consider.
February 3, 2014 - Presented to Assembly Local Government; Housing and Community Development; and Revenue and Taxation Committees.
May 31, 2013 - Pursuant to Chapter 1124, Statutes of 2002 (AB 3000, Committee on Budget)