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California Community Colleges: Second Progress Report on the Student Success Act of 2012

September 22, 2016 - In this report, we provide background on the Student Success and Support Program, student equity, and other student success programs of the California Community Colleges (CCC). As background, we consider the effects of recent actions taken by the CCC Board of Governors, including setting minimum academic standards for fee waivers and establishing new policies for registration. We next discuss implementation of student success and equity programs. We conclude with an assessment of implementation to date and offer recommendations for legislative consideration.


Improving Education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in California

September 21, 2016 - California opened its first school for the deaf in 1860, long before it established most other forms of special education. Today, we estimate California spends more than $400 million a year to educate approximately 14,000 students who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). On a per–student basis, California spends substantially more to educate DHH students than other groups of children, including students with various other disabilities. Despite California’s long experience with and relatively large expenditures on DHH students, these students continue to lag far behind their hearing peers on statewide assessments of reading and math. In this report, we undertake a comprehensive review of DHH education in California. We begin by describing the state’s current approach to DHH education, then identify several major shortcomings with this approach, and conclude by making recommendations to address the shortcomings.


Common Claims About Proposition 13

September 19, 2016 -

Proposition 13 was a landmark decision by California’s voters in June 1978 to limit property taxes. Today, there are many questions about the impacts of these changes. This report examines some of these questions and which of them can be answered by the data available.

Also see the companion videos for this report.


Improving Workforce Education and Training Data in California

August 18, 2016 - In 2016-17, eight state agencies are receiving more than $6 billion in state and federal funding to administer almost 30 workforce education and training programs. Historically, state and federal laws have required service providers to report different types of outcome information even for similar workforce programs, making comparing programs and assessing the overall system's performance difficult. In addition, to collect information about program participants’ longer-term outcomes, state agencies often must share and link data with one another. Currently, the state's method for linking data is inefficient and administratively burdensome. To address these concerns, we recommend the Legislature direct the California Workforce Development Board to determine a set of common outcome measures for workforce programs and require programs to collect and report data for those measures. We also recommend the Legislature replace the state’s existing method of linking data with a streamlined, systemwide method. To increase the value of workforce data, we further recommend the board present the data in a few workforce reports each year, with the intent of informing policy makers’ policy and funding decisions and improving the overall quality of the state’s workforce system.

Correction (8/18/16): CalWORKs employment and training services funding levels corrected in Figure 1.


Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Tax Credit

June 30, 2016 - This report is in response to Chapter 608 of 2013 (AB 32, J. Pérez), which requires our office to evaluate the effectiveness of the tax credits allowed for qualified investments in community development financial institutions (CDFIs), with a focus on employment in low-to-moderate income and rural areas, and on the benefits of these tax credits to low-to-moderate income and rural persons.


Overview of May Revision Proposals For Higher Education

May 16, 2016 - Notable new higher education proposals in the May Revision include a $75 million increase for community college general purpose apportionments, a $26 million increase for two initiatives to improve California State University (CSU) graduation rates, and a $4 million increase to expand the University of California’s (UC’s) online A-G course offerings. We recommend adopting the proposal for community college apportionments in order to provide colleges with more flexible funding. We recommend rejecting the Governor’s proposals for UC and CSU, largely due to insufficient information about why the funding increases are needed. In this report, we also assess and make recommendations on various other higher education May Revision proposals.


Governor’s May Revision: Budget Trailer Bill Changes to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act

May 16, 2016 - This document summarizes the major changes to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) included in the administration’s May Revision budget trailer legislation. It also raises several issues for the Legislature to consider as it reviews the MMRSA budget trailer legislation.


Governor’s May Revision: Expansion of Inmate Rehabilitation Programs

May 16, 2016 - The Governor’s May Revision proposes a $24.5 million General Fund augmentation for various inmate rehabilitation programs. The proposed augmentation would increase to $44.4 million in 2017-18 and decline to $37.1 million in 2018-19. While we recommend approving additional funding for those programs that appear to be effective, we recommend rejecting funding for proposals for which there is not clear evidence of effectiveness and those that lack sufficient detail.


The 2016-17 Budget: Analysis of the Proposition 98 May Revision Budget Package

May 16, 2016 - In this brief, we analyze the Governor’s Proposition 98 May Revision budget package. In the first section, we focus on changes in the overall Proposition 98 funding level under the May Revision compared to the Governor’s January budget. In the next three sections, we describe and assess the major changes in specific Proposition 98 proposals for K-12 education, early education, and the California Community Colleges (CCC), respectively.


2016-17 Capital Outlay Support Budget Request

May 15, 2016 - The Governor’s May Revision requests a total of 10,389 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff resources and about $1.9 billion for the Capital Outlay Support program at Caltrans in 2016-17. This includes a proposed increase of 877 FTEs and $156 million to support projects that would be funded from the estimated increase in transportation funding resulting from the Governor’s proposed funding package. While the Legislature has been considering various proposals to increase funding for transportation projects (including the package proposed by the Governor) as part of a special legislative session, it has not adopted any such proposals at this time. Thus, we find it is premature to approve additional COS resources as proposed by the Governor until a specific transportation funding proposal is adopted.


Options for Modifying the State Child Care Tax Credit

April 7, 2016 - The Child and Dependent Care Expenses Credit (“child care tax credit” or “credit”) is a provision of the state income tax code that allows filers with income below $100,000 to reduce their tax liability by a percentage of their eligible child care expenses. The 2015–16 Budget Act required our office to prepare a report providing options to extend the credit to low– and middle–income families not currently receiving child care subsidies. This report provides an analysis of the costs, benefits, and trade–offs associated with these options.


A Required Report on Student Fee Transparency and Accountability

April 6, 2016 -

Chapter 620 of 2012 (AB 970, Fong) requires the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) to fulfill the following three requirements related to systemwide tuition and fee increases:

  • Tuition and Fee Policies. The legislation requires UC and CSU to develop a list of factors to consider when recommending an increase in mandatory systemwide tuition and fees for resident students.
  • Notification and Consultation Procedures. The legislation requires UC and CSU to follow prescribed public notice and student consultation procedures before adopting an increase.
  • Reporting Provisions. The legislation requires UC and CSU to provide the Legislature with annual reports on tuition and fees, financial aid, and the total cost of attendance. In addition, the legislation requires our office to report on UC’s and CSU’s compliance with Chapter 620.

As detailed below, our review found UC was not in compliance with several provisions of Chapter 620. Though the legislation deems its provisions to be required for UC, UC believes it is not legally obligated to comply because of its constitutional autonomy. We found CSU complied with all Chapter 620 provisions except for one reporting requirement.


Review of High-Speed Rail Draft 2016 Business Plan

March 17, 2016 - On February 18, 2016, the California High–Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) released a draft of its 2016 business plan, as required by state law. The plan provides updated information on the project and proposes changes to the project’s construction plan. In this report, we (1) provide background information on the planned high–speed rail system, (2) describe the major changes proposed in the draft 2016 business plan to the project, and (3) identify issues for legislative consideration.


The 2016-17 Budget: Assessing the Governor’s Zero-Textbook-Cost Proposal

March 14, 2016 - This brief is intended to assist the Legislature in reviewing the Governor’s proposal for zero-textbook-cost degrees. We provide background on open educational resources (OER), describe California efforts to encourage their use, and highlight zero–textbook–cost degree initiatives currently underway in other states. We then describe the Governor’s proposal and provide our associated assessment and recommendations.


The 2016-17 Budget: Evaluating FI$Cal

March 10, 2016 - In this report, we describe the FI$Cal Project, provide an update on the project’s status, and describe the events that triggered the development of a sixth special project report (SPR 6). We also describe the Governor’s 2016–17 budget proposals to: (1) allow the project to implement the changes proposed in SPR 6 and (2) establish a new state department to maintain and operate the FI$Cal System. Finally, we make associated findings and recommendations.