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February 2, 2021 - This is the first in a series of several posts estimating the percentage of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)-eligible individuals who actually enroll in the program—otherwise known as the CalWORKs take-up rate. In this post, we introduce our methodology for estimating the number of families eligible for CalWORKs since 2005 and compare this to the number who actually enrolled. In future posts, we plan to examine how this take-up rate varies between different regions in the state, as well as possible reasons why it varies regionally and has changed over time.
February 2, 2021 - This post discusses 2021-22 Governor’s Budget proposals for the State Controller’s Office and the California Department of Human Resources to continue planning a replacement for the state’s current payroll system—the proposed California State Payroll System information technology project.
February 1, 2021 - In this post, we provide our analysis of the Governor's proposal to provide the California Arts Council $15 million from the General Fund on a one-time basis to support grants for artwork designed to create public awareness of the methods for stopping the spread of COVID-19.
January 29, 2021 - Under current law, about $1.3 billion in state expenditures—including many that directly support core government services—are subject to potential suspension in 2021-22. Given that the state has a significant windfall, it is unlikely that these suspensions would be operative under current law. The Governor proposes maintaining the suspension calculation for 2022-23. We recommend the Legislature reject the proposed suspension language. Given that the state likely faces multiyear deficits, the Legislature might want to evaluate some the suspension items to ensure the programs are meeting their policy objectives.
January 29, 2021 - In this post, we provide background on school closures and recent funding to address learning loss, describe the Governor’s proposal to allocate $4.6 billion to schools in spring 2021 to address student learning loss caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, assess the proposal, and describe our recommendations to the Legislature.
January 27, 2021 - In this post, we describe community college reserve policies and track local reserve levels over time. We focus on local reserve levels because they are a key indicator of the overall fiscal health of community colleges.
January 20, 2021 - The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act provides the second round of federal relief funding for higher education. In this post, we recap the first round of federal relief funding for higher education, then describe the key elements of the second round of funding. We also compare funding allocations for higher education institutions in California under the first and second rounds of funding.
January 19, 2021 - In this brief we assess how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected renters and homeowners. We also provide an updated estimate of the total unpaid rental debt in California that has accumulated due to COVID-19.
Correction 1/19/21: Legend on Figure 3 corrected to match data.
December 18, 2020 - To help address the state’s large budget deficit as estimated in June 2020, the 2020-21 budget package deferred a substantial amount of General Fund payments to schools and the California Community Colleges (CCC). In this post, we (1) provide background on community college cash flow and cash management, (2) describe the community college deferrals included in the state’s 2020-21 budget package, (3) explain how the CCC Chancellor’s Office is implementing these deferrals, (4) discuss how community college districts are responding, and (5) present options for the Legislature to consider, particularly given the improved budget outlook.
December 8, 2020 - In this post, we describe our most recent forecast for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program costs and discuss recent caseload trends. With this post we intend to provide information but do not include any explicit recommendations to the Legislature. This post is part of our 2021-2022 Fiscal Outlook series of publications.
November 19, 2020 - In this analysis, we (1) provide an overview of the state correctional population; (2) discuss our projections of the population through 2024-25, and (3) comment on how changes in the sizes of these populations could impact state correctional costs in both the near and long term. Specifically, we estimate that the number of inmates, parolees, and wards in the state’s correctional system will significantly decline due to two main factors—operational changes that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and various policy changes recently enacted that will further reduce the size of the state correctional population in the long term. We also estimate that these population declines will substantially slow the expected growth in CDCR’s overall projected costs through 2024-25—partially through the closure of five prisons. This publication is part of our The 2021-22 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook series.
November 18, 2020 - Medi‑Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, provides health care coverage to about 13 million of the state’s low‑income residents. Medi‑Cal costs generally are shared between the federal and state governments. In a typical year, the General Fund covers a little more than 20 percent of total Medi‑Cal costs, with federal funds and other state and local funds respectively covering the remaining 65 percent and 15 percent of total costs. In this web post, we describe the major factors that we expect to drive changes in General Fund spending in Medi‑Cal over the near term—in 2020‑21 and 2021‑22—and over the longer term through 2024‑25. We also describe a number of key assumptions that we made in our spending projections.
November 16, 2020 - This post provides an update on the fiscal condition of California’s school districts as the state begins the process for developing its 2021-22 budget.
November 10, 2020 - The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the shift to campuses operating re-motely, the economic downturn, and state funding reductions have created fiscal challenges for the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC). To help address these challenges, the 2020-21 Budget Act signaled the Legislature’s intent that the universities begin drawing down their core reserves for academic programs. Prior to the pandemic, the most recent data available showed that core reserves totaled $1.7 billion at CSU and $1.2 billion at UC. CSU and UC also plan to use their noncore reserves to maintain their self-supporting pro-grams (such as housing and parking), which have lost revenue due to remote operations. Importantly, though the state viewed the universities’ reserves as a budget tool for mitigating funding reductions this year, state law is silent on the level of reserves CSU and UC are to carry, the purposes of those reserves, and the interaction of those reserves with the state’s reserves. We encourage the Legislature to set clearer expectations regarding the state’s and the segments’ responsibilities for building reserves for future economic uncertainties. Developing a specific policy in this area would benefit from further analysis, as the reserve levels required to respond to any future situation would depend upon many factors (including the magnitude of a future economic downturn and the likelihood the state reduces funding for the universities).
Updated 12/10/20: This post has been updated to reflect new reserve levels at UC Santa Barbara.
November 10, 2020 - In contrast to the state, the California State University and the University of California typically do not face cash timing issues. The universities also tend to have relatively larger cash cushions, which have allowed them over time to invest more of their cash in long-term investment accounts and even assist the state in managing its cash challenges. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and recession, however, have changed these dynamics. While the state has a larger cash cushion compared to previous recessions, the pandemic has resulted in notable revenue declines at campuses, which have weakened their cash positions. To weather the reduction in revenues, the universities have implemented, or are considering, internal borrowing and transfers, shifting more money back into short-term investment accounts, and issuing bonds to help cover operating costs. These actions will help the universities meet the unprecedented challenges wrought by the pandemic, but they come with trade-offs and risks. Given these developments, monitoring the universities’ fiscal condition over the coming years will be especially important for the Legislature.