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Update on State and School District Reserves

April 5, 2020 - As the public health crisis related to COVID-19 has unfolded, the possibility of the state facing a budget problem seems increasingly likely. One key tool to address a budget problem is budget reserves. This post assesses the current reserve situation of the state and school districts—whose funding largely depends on the state.

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Federal Assistance for Businesses Affected by COVID-19

April 3, 2020 - This post in our COVID-19 series on federal actions affecting California summarizes federal financial assistance provided to businesses.

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Broad-Based Cash Assistance in COVID-19 Recovery Actions

April 3, 2020 - This post summarizes the broad-based cash assistance provided under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We briefly describe the historical and policy context for this assistance and discuss its likely impact on Californians.

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Assessing Recent Changes to California Competes

March 30, 2020 - California Competes is an economic development tax incentive program that allows the administration to negotiate tax credit agreements with individual companies that agree to meet multiyear hiring and investment targets. In this report we provide background information about the California Competes program and the changes that the Legislature made in 2018. Next, we describe the effects of these changes on the program in 2018‑19, the first year of their implementation. We then assess how the changes have affected the administration of the California Competes program and consider whether it is more or less effective than before. Lastly, looking forward, we suggest working to find ways to expand the pool of qualified applicants and advise the Legislature to continue its oversight of the program.

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Federal Paid Leave for Workers Impacted by COVID-19

March 27, 2020 - On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), the second federal relief act aimed at mitigating the economic and public health consequences of COVID-19. In this post, we summarize the two forms of paid leave required under H.R. 6201, discuss how these interact with other state benefit programs, and highlight key issues for the Legislature to consider as it responds to the ongoing crisis.

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Nutrition Programs in COVID-19 Recovery Actions

March 25, 2020 - This post describes key actions taken to increase Californians' access to food in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We focus on key actions taken by the state and federal government through April 10, 2020.

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COVID-19 Disaster Declarations and Funding Implications

March 24, 2020 - In this post, we discuss federal assistance available to California and other states as a result of the President’s emergency and major disaster declarations.

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COVID-19: Federal Health-Related Response

March 23, 2020 - This initial post highlights key federal actions in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)—through March 19, 2020—relating to public health broadly and individual health care. We discuss three sets of federal actions—(1) a federal legislative package focused on public health infrastructure, (2) a declaration of national emergency that opened the door for the state to apply for increased flexibility in the delivery of Medicaid services, and (3) a federal legislative package that provides for increased federal Medicaid funding and universal coverage of COVID-19 testing without cost sharing.

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COVID-19: Unemployment Insurance for Workers Impacted by COVID-19

March 23, 2020 - This post summarizes recent federal relief actions in the unemployment insurance program, discusses how these federal actions interact with current state programs, and highlight options the Legislature may want to pursue in responding to the ongoing crisis.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Expanding the Minimum Franchise Tax Exemption

March 23, 2020 - In this budget analysis brief, we provide background information on the current tax expenditure and assess the merits of the administration’s proposal to expand it. We conclude that the Legislature should reject the Governor’s proposal. We further suggest the Legislature reconsider the current exemption.

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Collective Bargaining: Assessing Proposed Employee Compensation Increases

March 20, 2020 - The Legislature likely will be asked to approve labor agreements for eight bargaining units in 2020—the employees represented by these bargaining units account for more than one-half of the state’s General Fund personnel costs. The purpose of this post is to highlight the importance of requiring the administration to justify compensation increases it agrees to in labor agreements submitted to the Legislature for approval.

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The 2020-21 Budget: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA)

March 20, 2020 - The Governor’s 2020-21 budget includes proposals related to CDTFA’s administration of cannabis taxes, tobacco taxes, and fuel taxes. In this post, we discuss some budget reductions included in the cannabis and tobacco proposals, and we assess the adequacy of the fuel tax proposal.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Governor’s Fiscal Oversight Proposals

March 19, 2020 - In this post, we provide background on fiscal oversight of school districts in California, describe the Governor’s proposals to augment oversight and reporting requirements related to school district budgets, assess those proposals, and provide associated recommendations.

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COVID-19 and California’s Evolving Fiscal Outlook

March 18, 2020 - In this installment of Fiscal Perspectives, Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek offers some initial observations on the recent volatility in financial markets, palpably sharp reduction in economic activity, and the state’s fiscal position at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Review of the Draft 2020 High-Speed Rail Business Plan

March 13, 2020 - In this report, we identify a number of key issues for legislative oversight. First, we point out that the near‑ and long‑term schedules identified in the draft 2020 business plan appear ambitious. Second, we identify some near‑ and long‑term funding challenges confronting the project. Third, we raise concerns that HSRA’s plan to use a third‑party public entity to operate interim service from Merced to Bakersfield appears to be inconsistent with the spirit of Proposition 1A. Forth, we identify some of the key assumptions made by the ETO that affect its assessment of alternatives. Fifth, we identify some key actions that HSRA plans to take in the coming months that will significantly limit the state’s flexibility to change its approach to the project in the future.