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2016 Data on Crime in California

October 17, 2017 - Since 1930, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program has collected data on crimes reported to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Recently, the FBI released data on crime in 2016. These data likely underestimate the total number of crimes that have actually occurred. This is because they do not include unreported crime, and some reported crimes—including all drug crime—are excluded. Despite these limitations, the UCR data provide useful metrics for tracking changes in crime rates over time. In this report, we present crime trends in California and show how California compares to nationwide trends.

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Update on School District Retiree Health Benefits

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.

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July 2017 Update: Los Angeles’ Bid for the Olympics and Paralympics

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.

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How Will Aging Baby Boomers Affect Future Property Tax Revenues?

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.

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LAO Multiyear State Budget Outlook

May 19, 2017 - This post presents our multiyear outlook for the condition of the state budget through 2020-21 based on current federal and state law and policies, as modified by the Governor’s May Revision proposals. This outlook assumes the passage of the Governor’s proposals, but uses our office’s own estimates of future costs of state programs, along with our own estimates of revenues.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Overview of the Governor's May Revision Medi-Cal Budget Proposal

May 17, 2017 - In this Budget and Policy Post, we provide an overview of several of the key factors driving the changes in estimated and proposed Medi-Cal spending in 2016-17 and 2017-18; our evaluation of the Governor’s updated caseload estimates; and an update on several key proposals from the January budget, some of which have been modified at May Revision. During continuing budget deliberations, we recommend that the Legislature ask for clarity from the Department of Health Care Services on how the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program will be funded in the future under the Governor’s proposal if Health Care Services Plans and Penalties Fund revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of the program. We also recommend that the Legislature, should it approve the Governor’s plan to cancel the planned transition of Newly Qualified Immigrants from Medi-Cal to Covered California, consider trailer bill language that repeals existing state statutory language that calls for the transition. Finally, we recommended a downward technical adjustment of $62 million General Fund to the 2017-18 May Medi-Cal Estimate.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The Governor's May Revision Cannabis-Related Proposals

May 16, 2017 -

In this analysis, we discuss the Governor’s cannabis-related May Revision proposals for seven state departments. Based on our initial review of these proposals, we provide (1) overarching comments and (2) recommendations on each department’s specific proposal.

LAO Bottom Line. The Governor’s May Revision proposes 201 positions and $43.2 million in 2017‑18 from various funds to conduct cannabis regulation-related activities. These resources are provided across seven state departments. Based on our initial review, we recommend making key policy choices regarding how the cannabis industry will be regulated before finalizing budget decisions, as well as limiting the amount of out-year funding provided to departments given the high level of uncertainty regarding future workloads. Accordingly, we also provide recommendations on each department’s specific proposal.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The Governor's May Revision In-Home Supportive Services Cost-Sharing Proposal

May 16, 2017 - Rather than return to the original 1991 realignment cost-sharing ratios for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) as initiated by the Governor in January (described in our report: The Coordinated Care Initiative: A Critical Juncture), the administration proposes establishing a new Maintenance of Effort (MOE) for counties’ share of IHSS cost. The new MOE would include both services and administration using 2017-18 costs. The new MOE would significantly increase costs to counties in 2017-18 relative to 2016-17. While the MOE shifts significant costs to counties, the proposal provides state General Fund support and additional realignment revenue to partially offset this increase. In this analysis, we lay out the various components of this complex proposal. We also raise key questions for Legislative consideration and provide our recommendation for how to move forward.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Initial Comments on the Governor’s May Revision

May 13, 2017 - On May 11, 2017 the Governor presented his 2017-18 May Revision budget proposal to the Legislature. We are releasing our assessment of the May Revision in various online products. This post describes the major features of the Governor’s May Revision and our office’s initial comments on it. Other posts in this series discuss our office’s independent assessments of the state’s economy, revenues, and spending proposals in the May Revision.

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Federal Funding for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection

May 10, 2017 - In this post, we provide more detail on federal funding for the state’s natural resources and environmental protection programs, with a focus on the five state departments that receive the most federal funds last year.

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Update on COLA for K-14 Education Programs

April 28, 2017 - On April 28, 2017, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released updated information that affects the cost-of-living adjustment for certain school and community college programs. In this post, we describe the new information and its implications for school funding.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Secretary of State Spring Finance Letter

April 25, 2017 - In a Spring Finance Letter, the Governor proposes using remaining funds from a 2009 settlement agreement to provide the Secretary of State a three-year funding increase of $463,000 per year and three positions to support the agency’s activities related to the implementation of SB 450. We recommend that the Legislature (1) use this proposal and the implementation of SB 450 to reconsider the state’s role in paying for elections administration and (2) consider the appropriate level, duration, and source of funding to support the Secretary of State’s SB 450 activities.

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Lessons From Other States to Address California’s Redemption Center Closures

April 10, 2017 - Since January 1, 2016, over 300 “convenience zone” (CZ) recycling centers—those generally located within a half mile of supermarkets—have closed. CZ recycling centers are an important part of California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program (BCRP). They provide a convenient location for consumers to recycle beverage containers and have their deposit—the California Redemption Value, or “CRV”—repaid. This post examines the closures by reviewing programs in other states and identifying options to improve convenient recycling options in California.

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Department of Toxic Substances Control: Performance Improvement Initiatives Merit Oversight

April 4, 2017 - In light of concerns about the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s execution of its responsibilities in recent years, the Legislature has held numerous hearings to monitor the performance of the department’s programs. The Legislature has also approved additional funding and positions for the department to address deficiencies in some of these programs. In this web post, we discuss the department’s progress to date in addressing these deficiencies, as well as provide questions for legislators to ask the department in future budget and policy hearings to determine the degree to which the department is improving program performance.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Update on Per Capita Personal Income

March 30, 2017 - On March 28, 2017, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released updated data on personal income. In this post, we describe the new data and the implications for school funding.