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January 3, 2017 - In November 2006, voters approved over $42 billion in bonds. In this web post, we summarize a variety of the reasons why some of these bonds remain unspent ten years later. We also identify some lessons for crafting future bonds.
December 14, 2016 - This report provides background information on Sacramento state office buildings and summarizes the actions taken in the 2016-17 budget process. It assesses the administration’s regional strategy for state office buildings in the Sacramento area. Finally, it provides recommendations to assist the Legislature as it faces key decision points related to the administration’s strategy.
February 12, 2016 - We find the Governor’s deferred maintenance proposal addresses an important state need. However, we also find that it raises several issues for legislative consideration. Specifically, we find that it lacks critical details, fails to address the underlying causes of the state’s deferred maintenance backlog, and proposes a process for identifying deferred maintenance projects for funding that is inadequate.
February 10, 2016 - In November 2015, the Regents of the University of California (UC) approved a proposal to enter into a public–private partnership to double the physical size of the Merced campus. Under the plan, enrollment on the Merced campus would grow from 6,000 to 10,000 full–time equivalent (FTE) students by 2020. This brief is intended to assist the Legislature in reviewing this proposal. In it, we provide background on the Merced campus and the state process for approving capital outlay projects at UC, describe key aspects of the proposed project, and raise four key issues for the Legislature to consider.
February 9, 2016 - The Governor’s budget for 2016–17 proposes one–time funding of $1.5 billion from the General Fund to be deposited into a new State Office Infrastructure Fund. Under the proposal, monies in this fund would be continuously appropriated for the replacement and renovation of state office buildings in the Sacramento area. We find the Governor’s focus on state office buildings makes sense given the age and condition of the facilities prioritized by the Governor. However, we identify several issues that merit legislative consideration.
March 19, 2015 - The Department of General Services owns and maintains 58 office buildings across the state, and the current backlog of maintenance projects for these buildings totals an estimated $138 million. In this report, we identify factors that contribute to the accumulation of deferred maintenance in state buildings and make recommendations both to reduce the current backlog of maintenance projects and to address the ongoing contributing factors to the backlog.
February 11, 2015 - In August 2014, the Legislature approved Chapter 188, Statutes of 2014 (AB 1471, Rendon), which placed before the voters a water bond measure primarily aimed at increasing the supply of clean, safe, and reliable water and restoring habitat. On November 4, 2014, voters approved the water bond measure—Proposition 1. In this report, we (1) describe Proposition 1, (2) review the Governor’s proposals to implement the bond, (3) identify key implementation principles, and (4) recommend steps for the Legislature to ensure that the bond is implemented effectively.
February 9, 2015 - The Governor’s budget proposes $125 million from the General Fund to address deferred maintenance backlogs in state facilities managed by various departments. The budget does not identify specific projects that would be supported with the proposed funding. We find the Governor’s focus on deferred maintenance to be positive. However, we also find that the proposal lacks important details necessary to evaluate the proposed allocations to departments, and that the proposed process for allocating funds does not provide the Legislature with an adequate opportunity to review proposed deferred maintenance projects prior to passage of the budget. Additionally, the Governor’s proposal fails to identify and address the underlying causes of departments’ deferred maintenance backlogs. Accordingly, we provide recommendations to address these concerns, promote legislative oversight in this important area, and ensure that the projects that are funded align with legislative priorities.
February 10, 2014 - In this report, we review California’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan, the first statewide infrastructure plan released by the administration since 2008. We commend the administration’s renewed focus on infrastructure. We also find that the plan raises some important policy issues related to the financing and maintenance of state infrastructure and serves as a valuable starting point for legislative discussions. However, we note that the plan does not include some key information and suggest some changes that could make the plan more helpful to the Legislature. In addition, given the size of the state’s infrastructure investments and their long-term nature, we recommend that the Legislature take a more active role in considering infrastructure in a comprehensive way. In order to assist the Legislature, we suggest some broad questions it may find helpful in guiding future discussions. We further suggest that the Legislature consider how, as an institution, it addresses infrastructure issues—for example, by creating a joint infrastructure committee.
January 7, 2014 - This report presents a summary of reports received by the LAO from California counties on construction projects that they completed with the design-build project delivery method. We find that it is difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of design-build compared to other project delivery methods (such as design-bid-build) based on the reports we received. Nonetheless, when the Legislature next considers extending design-build authority for counties or other local agencies, we recommend that it consider some changes such as creating a uniform design-build statute for agencies that have design-build authority, eliminating cost limitations, and requiring project cost to be a larger factor in awarding design-build contracts.
February 26, 2013 - Presented to Senate Committee on Governance and Finance and Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water
August 25, 2011 - California’s infrastructure includes a diverse array of capital facilities across many program areas. Additionally, the state provides funding for local public infrastructure such as K-12 schools and local streets and roads. Over the last decade, infrastructure costs have taken up a larger share of the state’s budget, yet the state’s infrastructure demands continue to grow. In this report, we summarize the state’s infrastructure spending and provide ideas for planning and funding future infrastructure. Specifically, we recommend that the Legislature establish a more coordinated process for financing infrastructure. Throughout the report, we also highlight ways the state could manage infrastructure to reduce state costs such as prioritizing the state’s infrastructure investments to the most critical and appropriate programs, adopting strategies to reduce infrastructure demand, and identifying additional revenue to support infrastructure.
November 9, 2010 - In a previous analysis, we pointed out that the sale-leaseback of state buildings authorized in 2009 legislation was poor fiscal policy and represented one imperfect option among many for balancing the state’s budget. Mainly due to changes in the interpretation of property tax assessments, our forecast of the cost of the sale-leaseback is approximately $800 million greater than our previous analysis. The Legislature may wish to consider whether this increase in costs merits changing course.
April 27, 2010 - In this short video, analyst Mark Whitaker discusses the LAO report "Evaluating the Sale-Leaseback Proposal: Should the State Sell its Office Buildings?"
April 27, 2010 -
Recent legislation authorized the Department of General Services (DGS) to sell and then lease back 11 state-owned office properties. The sale-leaseback is designed to free up the state’s equity in the buildings to provide one-time revenue for addressing the state’s current budgetary shortfall. We estimate that the sale of buildings would result in one-time revenue to the state of between $600 million and $1.4 billion, but that annual leasing costs would eventually exceed ownership costs by approximately $200 million.
Over the lives of these buildings, we estimate the transaction would cost the state between $600 million and $1.5 billion. The Legislature will need to weigh how these costs compare to other alternatives for addressing the state’s budget shortfall. In our view, taking on long-term obligations—like the lease payments on these buildings—in exchange for one-time revenue to pay for current services is bad budgeting practice as it simply shifts costs to future years. Therefore, we encourage the Legislature to strongly consider other budget alternatives.
(Short video introducing this report)