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April 6, 2018 - The State Constitution limits how much the Legislature can spend from tax revenues. The administration’s 2018-19 budget proposal reflects increased “room” under this limit—essentially spending capacity—of roughly $6 billion over June 2017 levels. Notably, the administration revised its approach for estimating costs to comply with federal and court mandates, which are excluded from the limit. We find that the mandates approach is inconsistent with the implementation of the spending limit because the administration reflects costs from any mandate whereas only costs resulting from mandates imposed after 1978-79 should be excluded from the limit. We recommend the Legislature direct the administration to revise its approach going forward to be consistent with the limit, which conceivably could increase or decrease room under the limit. In addition, we make several additional recommendations that would reduce room under the limit by several billion dollars.
April 5, 2018 - Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education Finance
April 4, 2018 - This report consists of five sections. First, we review the importance of and benefits provided by California’s forests. Second, we provide information regarding how forests are managed in California, including ownership, state and federal policies and programs, and funding. Third, we review the current conditions of forests and watersheds across the state, including the concerning implications and recent consequences of those conditions, as well as the actions that would be needed to make improvements. Fourth, in the findings section, we highlight shortcomings in how the state manages its forests and watersheds. Fifth, we offer recommendations for actions the Legislature could take to improve forest and watershed management in California.
April 4, 2018 - The 2017-18 budget package authorized a plan to borrow $6 billion from the Pooled Money Investment Account—an account that is essentially the state’s checking account—to make a one-time supplemental payment to the California Public Employees' Retirement System. All funds that make pension payments will repay the loan over the next decade or so. Authorizing legislation gives the administration some discretion over how funds will repay the loan, but the statute includes a variety of repayment requirements. In our view, while the basic elements of the administration’s repayment plan are reasonable, we have serious concerns about some choices the administration made. To address these concerns, in this report, we recommend a modified repayment approach that would: (1) be consistent with the authorizing legislation, (2) allocate repayment costs across funds appropriately and publicly, and (3) provide incentives to create more cost-effective outcomes.
April 4, 2018 - In 2017, the Legislature passed two laws that made major changes to tax administration and appeals in California. Prior to these laws, the Board of Equalization (BOE) had administrative and appeals responsibilities for many taxes and fees. The laws created two new departments—the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA)—and transferred most of BOE’s duties to these departments.
April 4, 2018 - Presented to Senate Committee on Education and Assembly Committee on Education
April 2, 2018 - Presented to: Assembly Committee on Transportation
March 28, 2018 - In this analysis, we assess two proposals in the Governor’s 2018-19 budget related to: (1) the Bee Safe Program, and (2) Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention. In addition, we briefly review the Governor’s safe and affordable drinking water proposal—for which CDFA would play an administrative role.
March 22, 2018 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
March 21, 2018 - This budget brief analyzes the Governor’s 2018-19 budget proposal to eliminate the use of the 340B Drug Pricing Program in Medi-Cal. The Governor’s proposed statutory changes are intended to generate state savings and reduce the administrative complexity of complying with federal law on duplicate discounts when 340B prescriptions drugs are dispensed to Medi-Cal enrollees. We find that the Governor’s proposal merits serious consideration from the Legislature since, among other benefits, it would likely result in state savings that the Legislature could, in turn, use to fund its priorities. We note, however, that these savings would be in place of savings currently enjoyed by eligible healthcare providers. Before making a decision on the Governor’s proposal, we recommend that the Legislature ask the administration to provide the following key information on the Governor’s proposal: (1) the amount of Medi-Cal savings that would be generated, (2) the impact on healthcare providers currently participating in the 340B Program, and (3) the trade-offs of alternative policy approaches to addressing the challenges that are present due to the use of the 340B Program in Medi-Cal.
March 19, 2018 - In this post, we first provide background on the reimbursement rate used for certain child care providers. We then describe and assess the Governor’s related hold harmless provision and end by making associated recommendations.
March 16, 2018 - County governments in California administer most local, state, and federal elections pursuant to various requirements established under state and federal law. The Governor’s budget proposes providing counties $134 million to replace their voting equipment. This proposal assumes counties implement a the new “vote center” model of voting. Given the condition of counties’ voting equipment and the state’s interest in effective county administration of elections, state assistance for purchasing new voting equipment is warranted. We recommend that the Legislature direct the Secretary of State to distribute funds based on counties’ equipment costs for implementing the vote center model—assuming the state covers half of those costs.