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2018-19 Budget: Voting Equipment for Counties

March 16, 2018 - County governments in California administer most local, state, and federal elections pursuant to various requirements established under state and federal law. The Governor’s budget proposes providing counties $134 million to replace their voting equipment. This proposal assumes counties implement a the new “vote center” model of voting. Given the condition of counties’ voting equipment and the state’s interest in effective county administration of elections, state assistance for purchasing new voting equipment is warranted. We recommend that the Legislature direct the Secretary of State to distribute funds based on counties’ equipment costs for implementing the vote center model—assuming the state covers half of those costs.

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The 2018-19 Budget: The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

March 13, 2018 - In this analysis, we assess two proposals for OES included in the Governor’s 2018‑19 budget: (1) the California Earthquake Early Warning (CEEW) system and (2) the California Disaster Assistance Act.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Statewide Prison to Employment Initiative

March 12, 2018 - This post addresses the Governor’s 2018‑19 budget proposal to provide $36 million General Fund over two years for local workforce development boards to fund employment training opportunities for at least 1,000 ex‑offenders and to integrate local employment training with programs offered by parole and probation departments. In the post, we (1) provide background on workforce development and employment programs for ex‑offenders, (2) describe and assess the Governor’s initiative, and (3) make recommendations regarding the proposal and raise outstanding issues for the Legislature’s consideration.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Census Outreach

March 8, 2018 - The decennial census enumerates each person in the United States. The results of the census apportion seats in the House of Representatives, guide legislative redistricting, and form the basis for allocating half-a-trillion dollars in federal assistance annually. The Census Bureau is making a number of significant changes to the 2020 Census. The Governor proposes providing $40 million for outreach to encourage Californians to complete the census. Given the major changes to the upcoming census—and the potential impacts to state funding—preparing for a significant outreach campaign can be in the state’s fiscal interest.

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Proposed Changes to Veterans Home in Yountville

March 6, 2018 - The Governor’s 2018-19 budget proposes $15.7 million General Fund for the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to conduct a preliminary study to construct a new skilled nursing and memory care facility at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. In addition, the Governor’s budget proposes to convert double occupancy rooms to single occupancy rooms in the domiciliary care unit at the Yountville veterans home. In this analysis, we (1) provide a brief background on the veterans home system, (2) describe the Governor’s proposal, and (3) provide our recommendations.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Grant Delivery System Replacement

March 6, 2018 - In this post, we analyze the Governor’s proposal to provide $7.4 million in 2018-19 for the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) to contract for a new Grant Delivery System. Below, we first provide background on the Grant Delivery System. We then describe and assess the Governor’s proposal and offer associated recommendations.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Evaluating FI$Cal

March 2, 2018 - In this analysis, we describe the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal) Project and the major changes to the project based on the newly released Special Project Report (SPR). We also describe the Governor’s 2018-19 budget proposal to fund activities associated with the new SPR at the State Controller’s Office. Finally, we make associated findings and recommendations.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Fire Recovery Proposals

March 1, 2018 - The Governor’s budget assumes $760 million in additional General Fund will be needed in 2017‑18 for response and recovery associated with the 2017 fires in Northern and Southern California, $388 million of which will be reimbursed by the federal government in 2018‑19. For 2018‑19, the Governor proposes a total of $35 million from the General Fund for recovery costs associated the fires in Northern California, such as related to rebuilding public infrastructure and backfilling local tax revenue losses. While we do not raise specific concerns about the administration’s funding requests, we recommend that the Legislature direct the administration to report at budget hearings on the proposed funding and submit formal proposals for any future budget-year funding requests. We also recommend that the Legislature consider its priorities for allocating assistance to local governments affected by disasters and longer-term strategies for reducing future wildfire risk, such as strategies to improve forest health.

Correction (3/12/18): When this post was originally published, Figure 1 displayed the wrong graph. The correct graph is now in place.

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History of Special Education Funding in California

February 27, 2018 - This post traces the history of state special education funding in California to better inform conversations about how this funding might be allocated going forward.

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The 2018-19 Budget: California Competes Proposal

February 21, 2018 - The Governor proposes extending the California Competes tax credit for five years. We recommend rejecting the administration’s proposal to extend the California Competes tax credit because of problems that are inherent in and unavoidable for these types of programs. If the Legislature chooses to extend California Competes, we offer several suggestions that may alleviate some of its problems.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Department of General Services

February 20, 2018 - This analysis includes reviews of the following 2018‑19 budget proposals for DGS: (1) the construction of three state office buildings in the Sacramento area—Richards Boulevard, Bateson, and Unruh projects; and (2) Zero-Emission Vehicles.

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The 2018-19 Budget: County Assessor Funding

February 15, 2018 - The Governor proposes to create a three-year grant program to distribute $5 million per year to select county assessors to cover the majority of the cost of new staff and information technology upgrades. In general, there are good reasons for the state to provide funding to county assessors. We, however, suggest the Legislature consider an alternative grant program. Specifically, we suggest allocating the funding to county assessors to cover a certain portion of one-time costs for information technology upgrades.

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The 2018-19 Budget: California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA)

February 15, 2018 - In this analysis, we recommend one modification to the Governor's proposed 2018-19 budget for the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Authority: modify the one-time $8.2 million appropriation in 2018-19 by instead providing specific reimbursement authority over a three-year period, plus budget bill language giving the Department of Finance authority to increase spending authority with 30-day notification to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

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The 2018-19 Budget: California Public Utilities Commission

February 14, 2018 - In this analysis, we recommend one modification to the Governor's proposed 2018-19 budget for the California Public Utilities Commission: convert $366,000 for two positions to implement regulations related to electric and gas service disconnections from permanent to six-year limited-term.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Administration of the 2017 Housing Package

February 8, 2018 - This post reviews the Governor’s proposal to provide resources to the California Department of Housing and Community Development to administer the 2017 legislative housing package. Overall, we find the request to be reasonable. We suggest the Legislature consider a few opportunities to give the administration additional direction on how the housing package should be implemented.