To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.
May 10, 2004 - Presented to Assembly Special Committee on State Mandates on May 10, 2004.
April 26, 2004 - Key Elements of Mandate Reform, presented to the Assembly Special Committee on State Mandates on April 21, 2004.
February 18, 2004 - The Williamson Act allows cities and counties to enter into contracts with landowners to restrict certain property to open space and agricultural uses. In return for these restrictions, the property owners pay reduced property taxes because the land is assessed at a lower-than-maximum level. We recommend that the Legislature provide for the gradual elimination of payments to local governments for the local revenue losses associated with Williamson Act contracts.
February 18, 2004 - The prior administration’s action to increase the VLF and the current administration’s subsequent action to reverse that increase have resulted in a number of issues of concern to the Legislature, including (1) the amount of VLF backfill that local governments did not receive during the current year “gap” period, (2) the amount of the backfill loan to the state from local governments, and (3) the amount of backfill to be provided to local governments experiencing hardship. We review the status of these issues and recommend that the State Controller provide information to the Legislature regarding the status of VLF backfill payments and gap period revenues. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation on the administration’s proposal to provide $51 million in local government hardship funding. We also recommend that the Legislature adopt the administration’s proposal to retain the current vehicle depreciation schedule adopted in conjunction with the 1991 program realignment.
February 18, 2004 - As part of its general plan, every city and county is required to prepare a "housing element" which assesses the conditions of its housing stock and outlines a five-year plan for housing development. This mandate costs much more than the Legislature expected and does not ensure the construction of affordable housing. We recommend that the Legislature eliminate the mandate.
February 18, 2004 - Booking fees are charges imposed on cities, special districts, school districts, colleges, and universities to recover the costs associated with booking persons into the county jail. County authority to impose booking fees gives local agencies incentives to use county booking and detention services wisely and efficiently. Eliminating this incentive likely would result in significant increases to county costs, without any identifiable gain to public safety. We recommend the Legislature maintain county authority to impose booking fees.
February 18, 2004 - The administration's budget summary outlines ideas for changing the mandate system. While these ideas have merit, they do not go far enough to correct the structural problems inherent in the existing system. We identify six areas of concern that merit legislative consideration in any reform proposal.
February 18, 2004 - Similar to the 1990s, the budget proposes to shift $1.3 billion of property taxes from local governments to K-14 districts and reduce state education spending by an equal amount. In our view, the Legislature should use its authority over this tax for the overall betterment of local government, not as a state rainy day fund. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature reject this proposal. If the Legislature chooses to review proposals to reduce local taxes, we offer guidelines for this process and outline an alternative budget reduction consistent with these guidelines. While this alternative also represents an undesirable intrusion into local finance, it would have fewer negative effects.
December 30, 2003 - In 2002 and 2003, the Commission on State Mandates determined that 23 sets of state laws impose state-reimbursable mandates on local governments. The commission estimated the state's cost to reimburse local agencies for these mandates is about $400 million. This report reviews the newly identified mandates, and offers recommendations as to whether each mandate should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified.
May 28, 2003 - Presented to Assembly Special Committee on State Mandates on May 28, 2003.
March 17, 2003 - Presentation to San Joaquin Valley local government officials.
March 11, 2003 - Presentation to the Assembly Human Services Committee, Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, and Senate Health and Human Services Committee
March 7, 2003 - Hearing handout presented to The Foundation Consortium for California's Children and Youth
February 19, 2003 - The regional housing planning process is not very effective at ensuring the construction of affordable housing or obtaining compliance with state law. As a result, we recommend that the regional planning mandate for councils of government be suspended, pending the enactment of reforms to the process.
February 19, 2003 - We recommend the Legislature suspend the mandate to reimburse local governments for the increased costs resulting from animal control. Furthermore, we recommend the Legislature refer the matter to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee for review.