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November 14, 2007 - In order to balance the 2008–09 budget, the state will have to adopt nearly $10 billion in solutions. Addressing the state’s current budget problem is even more urgent because we forecast a continuing gap between revenues and expenditures. A plan to permanently address the state’s fiscal troubles must involve a substantial portion of ongoing solutions. This is not only because of the persistent operating deficits projected throughout the forecast, but also because of the downside risks inherent with the economy, General Fund revenue volatility, and a wide range of budgetary uncertainties. Making tough choices now will allow the state to move closer to putting its fiscal woes in the past.
November 1, 2007 - Presented to: Assembly Banking and Finance Committee
October 3, 2007 - Presented at the Public Policy Institute of California October 3, 2007, Debt Conference
August 21, 2007 - Presented to the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee.
April 9, 2007 - What are the different types of taxes upon which California relies? What is their relative importance, and how have they evolved over time? How large a “burden” do these taxes impose on Californians, both in absolute terms and compared to other states, and how is this burden distributed? What types of policy issues are associated with the current tax structure, especially in light of our changing economy? The purpose of this primer is to address these and other tax-related questions, so as to aid policymakers and other interested parties in their tax-related deliberations and decision making.
February 21, 2007 - The budget contains two tax-change proposals. The first is to permanently repeal the existing teacher retention tax credit, which was adopted in 2000 but was temporarily suspended in four of the past six years. The second is to make permanent a temporary change made in 2004 to extend, from 90 days to one year, the time that vessels, vehicles, and aircraft recently purchased out of state must be kept outside of California in order to avoid the state’s use tax. We provide background on these two proposals, discuss their economic and fiscal impacts, and identify issues associated with them. Based on our review, we recommend that the Legislature adopt both proposals.
February 21, 2007 - There is a substantial difference between the amount of taxes that are statutorily owed to the state versus the taxes that are actually remitted by taxpayers. This difference, known as the "tax gap," is currently estimated at $6.5 billion annually and is due to the underreporting of income and various other factors. The budget proposes to spend $19.6 million in 2007-08 to continue certain pilot programs and undertake several new initiatives aimed at narrowing the tax gap. We recommend that the Legislature redirect some of the proposed budget-year spending on tax gap enforcement activities in order to increase their payoff in terms of General Fund revenues."
February 21, 2007 - We estimate that the Governor’s budget plan would result in 2007-08 expenditures exceeding revenues by $2.6 billion. This would leave the state with a $726 million year-end deficit, compared to the Governor’s January 10th estimate of a $2.1 billion positive reserve. In addition, the state would face operating deficits of $3.4 billion in 2008-09, $2.5 billion in 2009-10, and $1.4 billion in 2010-11. Thus, additional solutions will be needed to bring the budget into balance, such as budgetary savings, enhanced resources, or reduced supplemental payments toward paying off budgetary debt. It will also be important to avoid raising ongoing budget commitments without identifying alternative reductions or new revenues to pay for them.
February 21, 2007 - Based on our revenue and expenditure projections, we estimate that the adoption of the Governor’s budget plan would result in a $726 million deficit in 2007-08 (compared to the administration’s January 10th estimate of a $2.1 billion reserve). The difference in these numbers is due principally to our lower estimates of revenue in both the current and budget years, but also due to higher expenditure estimates, primarily related to Proposition 98. Adoption of the plan would also leave the state with large operating shortfalls in future years, unless additional corrective actions are taken. Thus, the Legislature will face major challenges in crafting a budget for the coming year. We believe that the primary focus should be on finding additional budget savings and/or revenues to address the near- and longer-term shortfalls. Should these solutions be insufficient to cover the full magnitude of the budget shortfall, however, the state can also achieve some near-term savings by reducing the amount of supplemental repayments on deficit-financing bonds relative to the $1.6 billion proposed in the budget.
February 21, 2007 - For 2007, like most other economists at this time, we forecast that growth will continue but be modest for the nation and California. For the year as whole, 2007 growth will be somewhat less than it was in 2006, with the first half of the year the weakest. Throughout the year, however, growth should accelerate, as the housing sector stabilizes, especially in the second half of 2007. We expect that the state’s performance will generally be similar to the nation’s.
February 21, 2007 - Following two years of major increases, it appears that revenue growth is slowing sharply in 2006-07, reflecting the impacts of a more moderate economic expansion and a dip in income from capital gains. The budget assumes that revenue growth will revive somewhat in 2007-08, led by an improving economy beginning later this year. For the current and budget years combined, we are estimating that General Fund revenues will fall below the budget forecast by $2 billion.
February 1, 2007 - In 1987, a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving two California tribes set in motion a series of federal and state actions that dramatically expanded tribal casinos here and in other states. Now, California’s casino industry outranks all but Nevada’s in size. In this report, we answer key questions, including: How much do tribes pay to California governments? Are the administration’s near-term revenue estimates related to five proposed compacts with Southern California tribes realistic? What powers does the state have to ensure that tribes meet their obligations under the compacts?
January 24, 2007 - Elizabeth Hill comments on the proposed Governor's Budget in her January 24th testimony before the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.
January 24, 2007 - Recent agreements between cities and private businesses involving diversions of millions of dollars of local sales taxes have highlighted concerns raised over the years about the present “situs-based” system for allocating local sales taxes. This report looks at these concerns and discusses options for dealing with them, including expanding restrictions on financial incentives and restricting use of buying companies to divert taxes.
January 22, 2007 - At the direction of the Legislature, we have worked with the tax agencies to identify a number of near-term steps that could be taken, short of full consolidation and technological integration, that could improve information and data collection and exchange, and thereby aid in tax enforcement and compliance.