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The 2017-18 Budget: Governor’s Criminal Fine and Fee Proposals

March 3, 2017 - The Governor’s 2017‑18 budget includes three specific proposals related to the state’s criminal fine and fee system. In this report, we provide a general overview of the fine and fee system and then discuss each of the Governor’s proposals. In particular, we assess the impact that each proposal would have on the system and make recommendations for legislative consideration.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Governor's Gann Limit Proposal

March 2, 2017 - Under the State Constitution, state tax revenues in excess of the Prop 4 (1979) state appropriations limit, or Gann Limit, must be split between taxpayer rebates and additional school spending. The Governor now proposes a new calculation methodology that creates $22 billion in additional state spending capacity. We find that the Governor's proposal violates the spirit of Proposition 4 and—in our view—is highly vulnerable to legal challenges. We recommend that the Legislature reject the proposal and offer options for legislative consideration.

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The 2017-18 Budget: California State Payroll System

February 28, 2017 - The State Controller’s Office (SCO) has recently renewed its effort to replace the state’s payroll system. In this year’s budget, the Governor proposes $3 million to begin an analysis of proposed alternatives for replacing the system. It makes sense for the state to assess the potential problems, both in terms of functionality and stability, with the state’s payroll system and to explore solutions to these problems. The appropriate selection of a project alternative will be critical to the success of the future payroll project. As such, we recommend the Legislature require the SCO to present its full findings from the alternatives analysis before it is granted additional funding for subsequent analyses. This would provide the Legislature with a clear opportunity to provide meaningful input and weigh in with its own priorities for the payroll system before a solution is procured.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The Coordinated Care Initiative: A Critical Juncture

February 27, 2017 - In this report we provide (1) background on the health care and Long‑Term Services and Supports (LTSS) issues that the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI) was intended to address, (2) an update on the CCI’s results and challenges to date, (3) an assessment of the Governor’s elimination of the CCI and budget proposal to extend certain CCI components, and (4) options for the Legislature on how to move forward. As ending the In‑Home Supportive Services (IHSS) has major, and rather complex, implications for 1991 realignment, we include a technical appendix at the end of this report that provides an in‑depth analysis of these implications.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Analysis of the Department of Developmental Services Budget

February 24, 2017 - In this report, we discuss the Governor’s budget proposals for Department of Developmental Services (DDS), providing our assessment of the budget package for DDS and analyzing one of the proposed trailer bills, which we find raises a number of issues. Also in this report, we describe the general nature of shifts in both policy and practice in the field of developmental services, detailing the relevant state and federal policies and their implications for the future developmental services program in the state, and discussing issues for the Legislature to consider as DDS implements these changes.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Alternatives to the Governor’s Proposition 2 Proposals

February 23, 2017 - Proposition 2 (2014) requires the state to make: (1) minimum annual payments toward certain eligible debts and (2) deposits into the state’s rainy day fund. This publication outlines alternatives to the Governor’s proposals that could free up General Fund resources. It also addresses whether the Legislature can access funds from state’s rainy day reserve under the measure’s budget emergency provisions.

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The 2017-18 Budget: An Overview of the Governor's Proposition 56 Proposals

February 22, 2017 - Proposition 56 was approved by voters in November 2016 to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Questions have been raised as to whether the Governor’s proposals for allocating Proposition 56 revenues meet the initiative’s requirement to supplement—and not supplant—existing spending in several areas. To examine these questions, we begin by reviewing the provisions of Proposition 56 and the Governor’s budget proposals. We then discuss whether the Governor’s proposals for Medi‑Cal could be viewed as supplanting General Fund resources and identify the relevant case law. We conclude by describing some trade‑offs for the Legislature to consider in allocating the Proposition 56 revenues.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Transportation Funding Package

February 17, 2017 - In this report, we (1) provide background information on the state’s major transportation programs and funding sources, (2) describe the Governor’s proposed 2017‑18 transportation package including how the increased funding would be allocated, and (3) provide a road map to assist the Legislature in making certain key decisions it will face in developing a transportation package.

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The Uncertain Affordable Care Act Landscape: What It Means for California

February 17, 2017 - Summarizes the major impacts that the ACA has had in California, explores what the ACA’s repeal could mean for the state, and assesses a collection of policy alternatives to the ACA that the new federal administration and Congress are currently considering.

Correction 3/6/17: Removed reference to Alpine County as having only one participating insurer.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The New IT Project Approval and Funding Process

February 17, 2017 - In recent years, the California Department of Technology has begun implementing a new IT project approval process—known as the Project Approval Lifecycle (PAL)—with the goal of helping to bolster project planning and reducing the likelihood of project challenges or failure. Although the PAL process has the potential to improve the quality of IT project implementation in theory, we raise a number of issues for the Legislature to consider as it exercises oversight of this new process. First, the merits of providing funding for IT project planning proposals should be determined on a case-by-case basis, and we note a few issues the Legislature may want to consider when determining whether to support a request for IT project planning funds. Additionally, we identify these funding requests for PAL-related planning activities as an early opportunity for the Legislature to weigh in on the potential project. Finally, we find that the Legislature could increase its oversight of the PAL process by (1) building in additional oversight methods when approving budget requests and (2) considering an evaluation of the actual benefits of the new project approval process.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 16, 2017 - In this report, we analyze the Governor's higher education budget proposals. Our many recommendations for consideration by the legislature include: providing base increases for the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community Colleges (CCC); improving implementation of existing student support programs before expanding upon other initiatives being put forward by the administration and other segments; and asking the administration to provide certain additional information about the CCC guided pathways and CCC Chancellor’s Office staffing proposals during spring budget hearings.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

February 15, 2017 - In this report, we assess many of the Governor's 2017-18 budget proposals in the resources and environmental protection areas and recommend various changes. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The Governor's Cannabis Proposals

February 14, 2017 - Voters legalized the use of medical cannabis in California in 1996, and the Legislature approved the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) in 2015. In November of 2016, voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized and created a regulatory framework for the nonmedical use of cannabis. In the coming year, the Legislature will face key choices about whether it wants to make statutory changes to bring the regulatory frameworks of MCRSA and Proposition 64 into greater alignment. Additionally, the Legislature will need to determine the staff and other resources to provide to the various agencies charged with regulating and taxing the cannabis industry. We recommend the Legislature (1) work with the administration to enact legislation to align the regulation of medical and nonmedical cannabis to the maximum extent possible, (2) make its decisions on the extent to which it wants to align the regulatory structures for medical and nonmedical cannabis before making its decisions on the Governor’s requested funding and related positions, and (3) take a more incremental approach to budgeting for departments that are requesting resources in 2017-18.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Cap-and-Trade

February 13, 2017 - In this report, we provide comments and recommendations related to the Governor’s proposal. We recommend the Legislature authorize cap-and-trade (or a carbon tax) beyond 2020. If the Legislature approves cap-and-trade, we recommend the Legislature strengthen the allowance price ceiling and provide clearer direction to ARB regarding the criteria that the board should use to determine whether a complementary policy should be adopted. We also recommend the Legislature approve cap-and-trade (or carbon tax) with a two-thirds vote because it would provide greater legal certainty and ensure ARB has the ability to design an effective program. With a two-thirds vote, we recommend the Legislature broaden the allowable uses of auction revenue because it would give the Legislature flexibility to use the funds on its highest priorities. When finalizing its 2017-18 cap-and-trade spending plan, we recommend the Legislature (1) reject the administration’s proposed language making spending contingent on future legislation, (2) consider alternative strategies for dealing with revenue uncertainty, and (3) allocate funds to specific programs rather than providing DOF that authority.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Proposition 98 Education Analysis

February 9, 2017 - An analysis of the Governor’s overall 2017-18 Proposition 98 budget package as well as his specific spending proposals for K‑12 education, including a summary of our recommendations.