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February 28, 2023 - This post: (1) provides background on common approaches to financing capital outlay projects, (2) identifies key trade-offs associated with the Governor’s approach to financing certain capital outlay projects in the 2023-24 budget, and (3) provides recommendations to the Legislature when considering capital outlay financing approaches.
September 29, 2022 - Each year, our office publishes California Spending Plan, a series of publications that summarize the annual state budget. The Overview of the California Spending Plan is presented here along with short online posts that focus on major areas and features of the 2022-23 budget package. As more of these posts become available, we will add them below.
October 7, 2020 - The 2020-21 Budget: California Spending Plan — Other Provisions.
January 13, 2020 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s budget. We estimate the Governor had a $6 billion surplus to allocate to discretionary purposes in 2020-21. The Governor allocates most of the surplus toward one-time purposes, including maintaining a positive year-end balance in the state’s discretionary reserve. Under the administration’s estimates, total reserves would reach $20.5 billion at the end of 2020-21—this represents a $1.7 billion increase from the 2019-20 enacted level. California continues to enjoy a healthy fiscal situation. Despite its positive near-term picture, the budget’s multiyear outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. In addition to describing the condition of the budget under the Governor’s proposal, this report discusses tools the Legislature can use to mitigate against these heightened risks.
January 20, 2020: Upon further review, one item included in the original version of Appendix Figure 3 on discretionary on health spending should not have been included (specfically, use of the Medi-Cal drug rebate fund to offset General Fund costs). Removing this item—which reduces General Fund spending—from the list of discretionary choices made in the Governor’s budget increases our calculation of the surplus to $6 billion. The document is updated to reflect these changes.
Update 1/24/20: Adjusted Judicial Branch items in Appendix Figure 1 to reflect ongoing spending.
November 20, 2019 - This post describes the current debt service ratio in the 2019-20 fiscal year.
In addition to this report, 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.
October 17, 2019 - The 2019-20 budget includes $3.5 billion for certain phases of roughly 200 different capital outlay projects across 20 different departments.
October 17, 2019 - The 2019-20 budget included significant augmentations and statutory changes in various other programs, including to support emergency services, the regulation of cannabis and alcoholic beverages, and construction and maintenance of state infrastructure.
February 8, 2019 - The Governor’s budget includes over $600 million from the General Fund and Proposition 68 for deferred maintenance projects at various state departments. We recommend that the Legislature require (1) departments receiving funding to report at budget hearings on the approach they will use to prioritize projects, as well as specific projects they plan to undertake; (2) the Department of Finance to report, no later than January 1, 2023, on which projects departments ultimately undertook with the funds provided; and (3) departments that continue to experience growth in deferred maintenance backlogs over the next few years to identify the reasons for the increases and the specific steps they plan to take to improve maintenance practices on an ongoing basis.
January 14, 2019 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s Budget. The budget’s position continues to be positive. With $20.6 billion in discretionary resources available, the Governor’s budget proposal reflects a budget situation that is even better than the one our office estimated in the November Fiscal Outlook. The Governor’s Budget allocates nearly half of these discretionary resources to repaying state liabilities. Then, the Governor allocates $5.1 billion to one-time programmatic spending, $3 billion to reserves, and $2.7 billion to ongoing spending. Although the Governor’s allocation to discretionary reserves represents a smaller share of resources than recent budgets, the Governor’s decision to use a significant share of resources to pay down state debts is prudent. The Governor’s ongoing spending proposal is roughly in line with our November estimate of the ongoing capacity of the budget under an economic growth scenario. This was just one scenario, however. Recent financial market volatility indicates revenues could be somewhat lower than either we or the administration estimated.
December 6, 2018 - With a state as big, as populous, and as complex as California, quickly summarizing how its economy or state budget works is impossible. Instead, Cal Facts is a visual guide—using a variety of different charts—to the state's economy, revenues, and major program trends.
May 15, 2018 - The Governor’s May Revision includes $1.06 billion from the General Fund for deferred maintenance projects at various state departments. We recommend that the Legislature (1) adopt budget trailer legislation to create a separate account to fund one-time deferred maintenance projects in the future and (2) deposit into this account the amount of General Fund revenues it decides is consistent with its overall General Fund priorities—an amount that could be higher or lower than that proposed by the Governor. The Legislature could separately appropriate funds in 2018 19 for any projects it felt were well justified. We further recommend that the Legislature seek information from the administration regarding causes of deferred maintenance at individual departments, as well as longer-term plans to prevent deferred maintenance from continuing to accumulate.
May 14, 2018 - The Governor’s May Revision proposes to deposit an additional $630 million General Fund into the continuously appropriated State Project Infrastructure Fund (SPIF). This funding is anticipated to fund the renovation of the Bateson, Unruh, and Resources Buildings, as well as the demolition of the State Printing Plant. We find that if these projects are a legislative priority for General Fund resources, it is reasonable to set aside funding for them. However, we continue to have serious concerns with the SPIF, which we find limits legislative oversight. Accordingly, we recommend modifying the SPIF so that it is no longer continuously appropriated.
February 20, 2018 - This analysis includes reviews of the following 2018‑19 budget proposals for DGS: (1) the construction of three state office buildings in the Sacramento area—Richards Boulevard, Bateson, and Unruh projects; and (2) Zero-Emission Vehicles.
November 15, 2017 - Debt service is a significant General Fund expenditure. In this post, we discuss how we estimate the state’s debt burden will change over the forecast period.
November 14, 2017 - In this report, we provide background information on ZNE buildings as well as the administration’s approach to meeting the executive order’s goals for state‑owned ZNE buildings. Then, we assess the administration’s approach to these buildings. Finally, we recommend that the Legislature adopt its own policies related to ZNE for state buildings and take steps to ensure that it has adequate information to evaluate future administration proposals for state‑owned ZNE buildings.