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February 17, 2006 - The costs of providing health care to retired state employees and their dependents—now approaching $1 billion per year—are increasing significantly. Many other public employers (including the University of California, school districts, cities, and counties) face similar pressures. This report discusses health benefits provided to retired public employees, focusing on state retirees. We find that the current method of funding these benefits defers payment of these costs to future generations. Retiree health liabilities soon will be quantified under new accounting standards, but state government liabilities are likely in the range of $40 billion to $70 billion-and perhaps more. This report describes actions that the Legislature could take to address these costs.
January 23, 2006 - We revise our December 14, 2005 summary of the fiscal effect of the MOU with Bargaining Unit 2, Attorneys and Hearing Officers, based on a side letter which changes the retirement provisions of the previous MOU. We estimate that current annual costs for salaries, salary-related costs, and health benefits for Unit 2 members total $396 million ($144 million General Fund). The proposed MOU would require 2005-06 expenditures of about $409 million (an increase of $13 million, or 3.3 percent). The MOU would require 2006-07 expenditures of about $436 million (an additional increase of $27 million, or 6.7 percent). The side letter reduces the amount of savings the MOU otherwise would have produced for the state. The magnitude of the foregone savings is unknown since it would have depended on future decisions of Unit 2 employees.
February 24, 2005 - To the extent that the Legislature chooses to assess a fee to cover the state’s share of costs of the Medfly Preventative Release Program, we offer a number of considerations concerning a fee structure.
February 24, 2005 - The budget proposes an augmentation of $4.8 million and 46 two-year limited-term positions for increased regulatory activities related to tribal gambling. The request would double the size of the California Gambling Control Commission. The request fails to (1) clearly articulate what problems are being addressed, (2) justify a new state gaming lab, and (3) reflect a joint strategy with the Department of Justice. We recommend that the Legislature reject the request and the administration resubmit a proposal which addresses these problems.
February 24, 2005 - The Governor proposes shifting $469 million in General Fund teacher retirement costs to school districts and/or schools. Due to current law requirements, it is likely that the proposal would require a $469 million upward “rebenching” of Proposition 98’s minimum guarantee—nullifying the proposed General Fund savings. In addition, from a long-term perspective, the proposal on its own would not address the retirement system’s shortcomings—the lack of local control and responsibility.
February 24, 2005 - The Governor proposes to suspend all of the state’s election-related reimbursable mandates. These suspensions would reduce the state’s General Fund costs by $16.5 million in 2005-06. The suspensions, however, could cause confusion regarding election procedures and reduce statewide uniformity. We recommend funding a number of the mandates, but with a simplified reimbursement method.
February 24, 2005 - The implementation of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) represents a significant opportunity for the Legislature to upgrade the state’s election systems and improve the administration of election laws. At a statewide level, the most pressing HAVA deadline is the requirement to have a federally compliant voter registration database operational by January 1, 2006. We offer a number of key considerations to assist the Legislature in implementing HAVA.
February 22, 2005 - California “defined benefit” pensions in the public sector raise certain benefits and cost issues. The Governor proposes shifting all new public sector employees to “defined contribution” plans to address the high cost of the current system. Defined contribution plans address concerns with defined benefit pensions, but also introduce issues of their own. The Legislature could also address the benefits and cost concerns of current retirement plans within the existing defined benefit structure or with other pension plan alternatives.
February 22, 2005 - On January 6, 2005, the administration released its plans to eliminate 88 boards and commissions and to reorganize the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency (YACA). For each of the plans, we provide an assessment of its fiscal effect and raise key issues. Although the administration recently has decided not to forward its boards and commissions proposal to the Legislature, the piece provides key considerations for the Legislature when seeking to consolidate these types of entities. Regarding the YACA proposal, we conclude it has the potential to improve the efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness of the state's prison system. However, the plan omits important details that the Legislature requires in order to fully evaluate its merits. Our analysis indicates that the proposed reorganization would probably result in net costs in the short term, but has the potential to achieve significant long-term net savings by placing a greater emphasis on inmate rehabilitation as a means of increasing public safety.
December 3, 2004 - Staff and their assignments within the Legislative Analyst's Office as of November 2004. (This document is 5 MB in size.)
August 27, 2004 - On August 3, 2004, the California Performance Review (CPR) released its report on reforming California's state government, with the aim of making it more efficient and more responsive to its citizens. This report provides our initial comments on the CPR report. Specifically, we: (1) provide an overview of its reorganization framework and other individual recommendations, (2) discuss the savings it assumes from its major proposals, and (3) raise key issues and considerations relating to CPR's various proposals.
February 18, 2004 - We recommend that the Legislature require a well-researched problem, a demonstrable net benefit, and built-in evaluations when considering any future proposals for state economic development programs. This would allow the Legislature to be more certain of the effectiveness of proposed programs.
February 18, 2004 - The administration proposes a constitutional amendment to expand the circumstances in which the state can contract with private entities. We provide guidelines the Legislature may want to consider as it evaluates the administration's proposal. We refer to a report published in our 1996 Perspectives and Issues in which we found that carefully managed privatization can, under the right circumstances, provide specialized expertise, save money, and/or result in improved service delivery. Poorly managed privatization, or privatization under the wrong circumstances, however, can lose money and result in poor service delivery.