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.


The 2020-21 Budget: Governor’s Proposal to Transfer the Seismic Safety Commission

February 12, 2020 - Various state departments are involved in seismic safety. In particular, the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission (SSC) is an independent entity under the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing (BCSH) Agency. The Governor proposes budget trailer legislation that would make various changes related to the SSC, including reorganizing it into a unit within OES and reducing the number of commissioners from 20 to 15. We find that the Governor’s proposal presents important trade‑offs for the Legislature to consider.


The 2020-21 Budget: Department of General Services

February 12, 2020 - In this analysis, we assess the Governor’s 2020‑21 budget proposals for the Department of General Services (DGS). Specifically, we review and make recommendations regarding the Governor’s proposals for (1) additional staff for Contracted Fiscal Services (CFS) workload, including the establishment of a new strike team to assist departments performing accounting activities with the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal); (2) renovating the Resources, Bateson, and Unruh buildings, and (3) funding elevator and fire system‑related deferred maintenance projects.


The 2020-21 Budget: The Governor’s Homelessness Plan

February 11, 2020 - In this report we provide the Legislature context for the state’s homelessness crisis, provide an update on major recent state efforts to address homelessness, assess the Governor’s 2020‑21 homelessness plan, propose a framework to help the Legislature develop its own plan and funding allocations, and offer an alternative to the Governor’s 2020‑21 budget proposal.


The 2020-21 Budget: Staffing to Address New Independent Contractor Test

February 11, 2020 - The 2020‑21 Governor’s budget includes two labor proposals related to Chapter 296 of 2019 (AB 5, Gonzalez), a new law that limits what types of work businesses can hire independent contractors to do. In this post, we provide a background on the new law, discuss how many workers it might affect, and make recommendations about the workload proposals at the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Employment Development Department (EDD).


The 2020-21 Budget: California Arts Council

February 7, 2020 - The Arts Council conducts a range of activities in order to support arts in California. In carrying out this mandate, the Arts Council focuses its efforts on the development of various grant programs to support artists and organizations. In addition, the state budget has recently included funds for the Arts Council to distribute to specific museums and other cultural institutions. The Governor’s budget proposes $49 million, mostly from the General Fund, for support of the Arts Council in 2020‑21. As we discuss in this brief, the Governor’s budget proposes $10.5 million from the General Fund on a one‑time basis to expand and extend two existing Arts Council pilot programs­—one focused on state‑designated cultural districts and one focused on disaster preparedness. In order to facilitate the Legislature’s evaluation of these extended pilots when they are complete, we recommend that the Legislature (1) establish clear goals for the pilots and (2) direct the Arts Council to develop and evaluate measureable outcomes related to the goals prior to requesting additional funding for these programs.


The 2020-21 Budget: Assessing the Governor's Reorganization Proposals

February 7, 2020 - As part of his budget plan for 2020‑21, the Governor proposes six government reorganizations across several policy areas. In many cases, the Governor proposes consolidating agencies or shifting responsibilities from existing agencies to newly established entities. The proposals would affect a broad array of state departments, offices, and commissions that perform a wide range of functions. In reviewing the Governor’s reorganization proposals, there are many issues for the Legislature to consider in determining whether to approve or reject each proposal. In this brief, we outline a broad framework to consider these issues. Specifically, we recommend that the Legislature consider key questions when evaluating the proposals.


The 2020-21 Budget: Overview of Labor and Employment Programs

January 22, 2020 - The 2020-21 Governor’s Budget includes 18 budget proposals related to labor and employment programs. This post provides a high-level overview of these proposals. Our office plans to evaluate several of these proposals more closely in the coming weeks.


The 2020-21 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

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.


MOU Fiscal Analysis: Bargaining Unit 18 (Psychiatric Technicians)

January 9, 2020 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 18 (Psychiatric Technicians). This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.

Corrected 1/10/2020: Changed Figure 3 and reference to the figure in text.


The 2019-20 Budget: California Spending Plan—Other Provisions

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.


Unit 2 (Attorneys) MOU Analysis

September 12, 2019 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 2 (Attorneys and Hearing Officers). This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.


MOU Fiscal Analysis: Bargaining Units 1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21 (SEIU Local 1000)

September 6, 2019 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the nine bargaining units represented by Service Employees' International Union, Local 1000. This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.


MOU Fiscal Analysis: Bargaining Unit 13 (Stationary Engineers)

August 26, 2019 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 13 (stationary engineers). Bargaining Unit 13 is represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 39. This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.


MOU Fiscal Analysis: Bargaining Unit 5 (Highway Patrol)

August 26, 2019 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 5 (Highway Patrol). Bargaining Unit 5 is represented by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP). This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.


Overview of the California State Lottery

August 21, 2019 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight, andProgram Evaluation and Assembly Governmental Organization Committee