Chas Alamo
(916) 319-8357
Personal Income Tax, Employment, and Labor Law
Ann Hollingshead
(916) 319-8305
State Budget and Federal Funding
Nick Schroeder
(916) 319-8314
Public Employment, CalPERS, Elections, Veterans Affairs
Angela Short
(916) 319-8309
Child Welfare, Child Support, Community Services and Development, Community Care Licensing, CalSTRS
Jared Sippel
(916) 319-8335
Emergency Services and Business Regulation
Alex Bentz
(916) 319-8312
Property Taxes, Bonds, and the Economy
Seth Kerstein
(916) 319-8365
Sales and Excise Taxes and Demographics


Other Government Areas

To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.


Doubling the Size of the Gambling Commission Not Justified

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.


Cost Shift to Teacher Retirement Costs Raises Short-Term and Long-Term Issues

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.


Analysis of the 2005-06 Budget Bill, General Government Chapter

February 24, 2005 - Analysis of the 2005-06 Budget Bill, General Government Chapter


Governor's Proposal to Suspend Election Mandates

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.


Help America Vote Act Implementation Considerations

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.


Addressing Public Pension Benefits and Cost Concerns

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.


Assessing the Governor's Reorganization Proposals

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.


Legislative Analyst's Office Staff Guide, 2004

December 3, 2004 - Staff and their assignments within the Legislative Analyst's Office as of November 2004. (This document is 5 MB in size.)


An Initial Assessment of the California Performance Review

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.


Evaluating Future Economic Development Program 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.


Contracting Out for State Services

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.


Alternative Retirement Benefit Programs

February 18, 2004 - To reduce budget costs, the administration proposes to issue bonds to finance almost $1 billion in scheduled retirement contributions. A Superior Court has thus far prevented the state from issuing such bonds. Regardless of its legality, incurring decades worth of debt to avoid an annual operating expense is poor fiscal policy. We recommend the Legislature reject the administration’s proposal. The administration also proposes having current employees contribute more of their salaries to retirement. The idea is worth pursuing in collective bargaining, but the Legislature should be aware of what this provision might cost the state in return. For new employees, the administration proposes rolling back retirement benefits to those in place in 1999. We recommend that the Legislature also consider alternatives such as Tier 2 and defined contribution plans for all new employees. These alternatives would result in more state savings and benefits compared to the administration’s proposal.


Position Management Fails To Provide Appropriate Oversight

February 18, 2004 - The California Department of Food and Agriculture's management of 500 permanent positions needs significant revision. We recommend that the Legislature adopt trailer bill language to specify that the department's continuous appropriations do not exempt it from the normal position approval process. We also recommend that the department establish permanent positions with the State Controller's Office and submit budget requests through the Department of Finance and the Legislature for all of its future staffing needs. Finally, we recommend budget bill language requiring the department to report on these permanent blanket positions by December 2004.


Analysis of the 2004-05 Budget Bill, General Government Chapter

February 18, 2004 - Analysis of the 2004-05 Budget Bill, General Government Chapter


Vacant Positions

February 19, 2003 - Recently, the Legislature has taken various steps, through budget control sections, to reduce the number of vacant positions in state government. We found that the Department of Finance (DOF) has provided most of the information requested. We recommend that DOF provide updated information.