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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.
September 25, 2017 - School districts face growing cost pressure related to the health benefits they provide for their retired employees. The first section of this post explains how districts structure their retiree health benefits, and the second section analyzes historical spending levels and future liabilities. We find that the unfunded liability—the total future cost of providing the retiree health benefits that employees have already earned, after subtracting the funds already set aside to cover those benefits—is about $24 billion across all districts. Some districts have taken steps to reduce their future costs, such as requiring employees to work longer before qualifying for these benefits. A few districts also are beginning to set aside additional funds now to cover future retiree health benefits, a practice that could yield significant long-term savings.
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.
July 19, 2017 - Statements of legislative intent and requests for studies adopted during deliberations on the 2017-18 budget package.
Correction 7/31/17: Removed 3100-301-0001 California Science Center – ADA elevator.
Correction 7/31/17: Title of item 1701-001-0067 changed to “Broker-Dealer Investment Advisor Program.”
July 6, 2017 - Los Angeles' prospects for hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games are strong, according to widespread reports. The California Legislature has provided a $250 million backup guarantee for shortfalls of the 2024 Games, but Los Angeles' bid for 2024 is fairly low risk and it is hoped that no state guarantee funds will ever have to be paid out. As the possible due date for the Governor's execution of a guarantee contract with Games organizers approaches, our office continues to recommend a strong legislative oversight role to help Games organizers deliver a low-cost and successful event. This update focuses on (1) yesterday's report from a key Olympic commission evaluating the 2024 bids of Los Angeles and Paris and (2) the widely reported possibility that Los Angeles or Paris will be offered the chance to host the Games in 2028 instead of 2024.
June 26, 2017 -
Provides various analyses related to an oversupply of allowances in the state's cap-and-trade program. Specifically, the letter:
June 20, 2017 - In the coming years, more and more aging homeowners likely will look to sell their homes. This surge in sales should boost local government property tax collections. These potential property tax gains are likely to be offset by an increase in the transfer of homes from parents to children which, unlike most home sales, does not trigger higher tax payments.
June 8, 2017 - Presented to: Budget Conference Committee
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.