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Report

California Public Higher Education: Funding Supplemental Services for Low-Income and First-Generation Students

December 20, 2017 - The Supplemental Report of the 2017-18 Budget Act required our office to examine how much existing funding and support is provided to these students and identify options for increasing that funding and support. This report fulfills this requirement.

Report

California Community Colleges: Interim Evaluation of Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program

December 19, 2017 - Chapter 747 of 2014 (SB 850, Block) authorizes California Community Colleges (CCC) to offer baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degrees on a pilot basis at 15 community college districts. It also requires the Legislative Analyst’s Office to conduct an interim evaluation of the pilot program. This report fulfills that statutory requirement. In this report, we provide background on CCC’s role in California’s higher education system and describe the main components of the statewide pilot program. We then (1) describe and evaluate the selection of the pilot bachelor’s degree programs, (2) provide initial information about students participating in the pilot programs, and (3) discuss the financing of these programs. We conclude by identifying issues for the Legislature to consider as the 15 colleges continue implementing the pilot program.

Report

Cap-and-Trade Extension: Issues for Legislative Oversight

December 12, 2017 - In this report, we (1) provide background information on cap‑and‑trade and the recent extension of the program to 2030, (2) identify key administrative implementation decisions that could affect program outcomes and the need for legislative oversight, (3) identify potential opportunities to increase the effectiveness of a new advisory committee created by AB 398, and (4) describe potential state cap‑and‑trade revenue scenarios through 2030.

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Evaluation of the Statewide Project Management Office

December 7, 2017 - In this report, we provide background regarding the objectives and operations of the Project Management Office (PMO), detail our findings in evaluating the PMO, introduce two significant recent developments and their impacts on the PMO, and make associated recommendations on how the Legislature should proceed to better align the office with the original legislative intent.

Report

Improving In-Prison Rehabilitation Programs

December 6, 2017 - In this report, we (1) provide background information on the state’s in-prison rehabilitation programs (including their intended goals), (2) outline key program principles for maximizing reductions in recidivism, (3) identify key shortcomings in the state’s rehabilitation programs, and (4) make recommendations to improve how the state provides in-prison rehabilitation programs.

Report

A Review of Caltrans’ Vehicle Insurance Costs

December 5, 2017 - In this report, we (1) describe various aspects of Caltrans’ vehicle usage, including the types of vehicles the department owns and its policies for employees to drive them; (2) provide an overview of the state’s vehicle liability self‑insurance program in which Caltrans participates; (3) examine the recent increases in Caltrans’ insurance premiums; and (4) identify options to contain the department’s premium costs. In accordance with the reporting language, we focus on Caltrans’ vehicle liability insurance costs in the report, though some of our findings could have implications for vehicle insurance costs for other state departments as well as state liability for other incidents besides vehicle collisions.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Proposition 98 Outlook

November 15, 2017 - Proposition 98 (1988) establishes a minimum annual funding requirement for schools and community colleges. In this report, we (1) explain how our estimates of the minimum requirement have changed since the adoption of the June budget plan, (2) identify the new funding available in 2018-19, and (3) highlight a few key trends affecting schools and community colleges over the next four years.

This is part of a collection of material for The 2018-19 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook. See a complete list of this year's fiscal outlook material on our fiscal outlook budget page.

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Evaluating California's Pursuit of Zero Net Energy State Buildings

November 14, 2017 - In this report, we provide background information on ZNE buildings as well as the administration’s approach to meeting the executive order’s goals for state‑owned ZNE buildings. Then, we assess the administration’s approach to these buildings. Finally, we recommend that the Legislature adopt its own policies related to ZNE for state buildings and take steps to ensure that it has adequate information to evaluate future administration proposals for state‑owned ZNE buildings.

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Review of the California Competes Tax Credit

October 31, 2017 - California Competes awards income tax credits to attract or retain businesses considering a significant new investment in California. In this report, we reviewed California Competes’ experience to date in meeting the Legislature’s goals for the program.

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The Property Tax Inheritance Exclusion

October 9, 2017 - When a property changes hands the taxes paid for the property often increase substantially. This is not true for most inherited property. Three decades ago, the Legislature and voters decided inherited property should not be reassessed when transferred. This has been a consequential decision. Many have benefited from the tax savings this policy affords. Nonetheless, the inheritance exclusion raises some policy concerns. Because of this, the Legislature may want to revisit the inheritance exclusion. Depending on the Legislature’s goals, the existing policy may be crafted too broadly and options are available to better target its benefits.

A short video accompanies this report.

Report

Volatility of California’s Personal Income Tax Structure

September 28, 2017 - For many years, personal income tax (PIT) volatility has complicated budgetary planning. This report analyzes the causes of PIT volatility. We find that about 40 percent of PIT volatility is due to choices about which types of income to tax, another 40 percent is due to the progressive rate structure, and the last 20 percent is due to deductions and credits. The Legislature could choose to make the tax less volatile, but actions to reduce volatility could reduce future growth of state tax revenues.

Report

Measuring CalWORKs Performance

September 6, 2017 - Currently, performance measurement in the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is relatively limited and largely focuses on processes involved with the program's operation—particular emphasis is given to a federal performance measure known as the "work participation rate" (WPR)—rather than on the program's end results, or outcomes. As part of the 2017-18 budget package, the Legislature adopted a new framework for performance measurement in CalWORKs that will be known as the CalWORKs Outcomes and Accountability Review (Cal-OAR). In this report, we outline the rationales for measuring program performance and outline why, ideally, performance measurement should focus on outcomes. We then raise several issues to be considered as the Cal-OAR system is further developed and implemented in the coming years.

Report

Overview of the 2017 Transportation Funding Package

June 8, 2017 - In April 2017, the Legislature enacted Chapter 5 (SB 1, Beall), also known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act. The administration estimates this legislation will increase state revenues for California’s transportation system by an average of $5.2 billion annually over the next decade. In this report, we (1) provide a brief background on the state’s transportation system, (2) describe the major features of the transportation funding package contained in the legislation, and (3) discuss issues for the Legislature to consider moving forward.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Governor’s CalPERS Borrowing Proposal

May 16, 2017 -

As part of his May Revision, the Governor proposes the state borrow $6 billion from the Pooled Money Investment Account (PMIA) to make a one-time payment to reduce state pension liabilities at CalPERS. The Governor proposes that the state and General Fund and special funds repay this loan with interest over a period of about eight years.

As we discuss in this brief, we think the plan would probably save the state money over the long run, although uncertainties remain about the likelihood and magnitude of this benefit. However, the administration is asking the Legislature to approve a large commitment of public resources with insufficient consideration. The administration has provided few of the legal or quantitative analyses that the Legislature should expect when receiving a request of this magnitude and complexity. Moreover, the administration has introduced this proposal as part of the May Revision—with only weeks before the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to approve the budget. We doubt all of the issues we raise in the brief can be reviewed by the June 15 deadline. However, there is no reason that the Legislature must make a decision before June 15. We recommend the Legislature wait to act on this plan until after the administration has submitted more analysis. At that point, the Legislature could decide whether or not to approve the proposal.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Analysis of the May Revision Education Proposals

May 15, 2017 - In this brief, we analyze the Governor’s May Revision education proposals. First, we review changes in the overall Proposition 98 funding level. Subsequently, we describe and assess the Governor’s major proposals for K‑12 education, child care and preschool, the California Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California, and student financial aid.

5/16/17: Correction to LAO CalWORKs Stage 2 cost estimates.