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Report

The 2019-20 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

January 14, 2019 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s Budget. The budget’s position continues to be positive. With $20.6 billion in discretionary resources available, the Governor’s budget proposal reflects a budget situation that is even better than the one our office estimated in the November Fiscal Outlook. The Governor’s Budget allocates nearly half of these discretionary resources to repaying state liabilities. Then, the Governor allocates $5.1 billion to one-time programmatic spending, $3 billion to reserves, and $2.7 billion to ongoing spending. Although the Governor’s allocation to discretionary reserves represents a smaller share of resources than recent budgets, the Governor’s decision to use a significant share of resources to pay down state debts is prudent. The Governor’s ongoing spending proposal is roughly in line with our November estimate of the ongoing capacity of the budget under an economic growth scenario. This was just one scenario, however. Recent financial market volatility indicates revenues could be somewhat lower than either we or the administration estimated.

Report

Assessing California’s Climate Policies—Transportation

December 21, 2018 - Chapter 135 of 2017 (AB 398, E. Garcia) requires our office to annually report on the economic impacts and benefits of California’s statutory greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals—statewide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. This report provides our assessment of the effects, of major policies in the transportation sector intended to help meet these goals, as well as identifies some key issues for the Legislature to consider as it makes future policy and budget decisions. In a companion report, Assessing California’s Climate Policies—An Overview, we describe the general types of economic effects of state climate policies, key challenges in measuring these effects, and broad issues for the Legislature to consider when designing and evaluating its climate policies.

Report

Assessing California’s Climate Policies—An Overview

December 21, 2018 - Chapter 135 of 2017 (AB 398, E. Garcia) requires our office to annually report on the economic impacts and benefits of California’s statutory greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals—statewide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. This report provides a conceptual overview of the potential economic effects of policies intended to help meet these goals—both positive and negative—as well as identifies some key issues for the Legislature to consider when designing and evaluating state climate policies. In a companion report, Assessing California’s Climate Policies—Transportation, we provide more detailed information and comments on the state’s major policies aimed at reducing emissions from the transportation sector.

Report

Cal Facts 2018

December 6, 2018 - With a state as big, as populous, and as complex as California, quickly summarizing how its economy or state budget works is impossible. Instead, Cal Facts is a visual guide—using a variety of different charts—to the state's economy, revenues, and major program trends.

Report

The Salton Sea: A Status Update

August 29, 2018 - The Salton Sea is California’s largest inland lake, located in Riverside and Imperial Counties. In this report, we discuss the changing conditions in and around the Sea, their statewide importance, and the Legislature’s role in overseeing projects to reduce potential negative effects on public health and wildlife.

Report

Improving California's Forest and Watershed Management

April 4, 2018 - This report consists of five sections. First, we review the importance of and benefits provided by California’s forests. Second, we provide information regarding how forests are managed in California, including ownership, state and federal policies and programs, and funding. Third, we review the current conditions of forests and watersheds across the state, including the concerning implications and recent consequences of those conditions, as well as the actions that would be needed to make improvements. Fourth, in the findings section, we highlight shortcomings in how the state manages its forests and watersheds. Fifth, we offer recommendations for actions the Legislature could take to improve forest and watershed management in California.

Report

The 2018-19 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

February 14, 2018 - In this report, we assess many of the Governor’s budget proposals in the resources and environmental protection areas and recommend various changes. Below, we summarize our major findings and recommendations. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.

Report

Improving Outcomes for California Conservation Corpsmembers

February 9, 2018 - In this report, we (1) provide background material on the types of training and educational opportunities the CCC offers and how the CCC is funded, (2) discuss the CCC’s goals and objectives for improving its training and work program and the corpsmember outcomes it currently tracks (3) assess the lack of corpsmember outcome data and the feasibility of establishing meaningful corpsmember outcome measures and (4) recommend steps the Legislature could take to improve outcome measurements for corpsmembers and to improve the overall performance of the department.

Report

Cap-and-Trade Extension: Issues for Legislative Oversight

December 12, 2017 - In this report, we (1) provide background information on cap‑and‑trade and the recent extension of the program to 2030, (2) identify key administrative implementation decisions that could affect program outcomes and the need for legislative oversight, (3) identify potential opportunities to increase the effectiveness of a new advisory committee created by AB 398, and (4) describe potential state cap‑and‑trade revenue scenarios through 2030.

Report

Evaluating California's Pursuit of Zero Net Energy State Buildings

November 14, 2017 - In this report, we provide background information on ZNE buildings as well as the administration’s approach to meeting the executive order’s goals for state‑owned ZNE buildings. Then, we assess the administration’s approach to these buildings. Finally, we recommend that the Legislature adopt its own policies related to ZNE for state buildings and take steps to ensure that it has adequate information to evaluate future administration proposals for state‑owned ZNE buildings.

Report

Managing Floods in California

March 22, 2017 - This report is intended to provide basic information about floods and flood management in California. (Whereas previous generations referred to “flood control” or “flood prevention” activities, experts now prefer the term “flood management” in acknowledgement that floodwaters are recurring and inevitable.) We begin by summarizing the history, causes, and risk of floods across the state. We then describe flood management agencies, infrastructure, and strategies, as well as how governmental agencies typically respond when floods occur. Next, we describe the spending levels and funding sources currently supporting flood management efforts, as well as estimates for how much additional funding may be needed to improve those efforts. We conclude by highlighting some key challenges confronting the state in contemplating how best to manage floods in California.

Report

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.

Report

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.

Report

Improving State’s Approach to Park User Fees

January 12, 2017 - The state park system contains nearly 280 parks, serves about 70 million visitors each year, and costs over $400 million a year to operate. These costs are mainly supported by the state General Fund and revenue generated by the parks, including roughly $100 million in fees paid by park users for day use, camping, and special events. In reviewing current fee-setting policies and procedures we find that the current lack of a statewide policy framework and standard process can lead to disparities in fees, infrequent reviews of fees, and inconsistent opportunities for public input. Our recommendations for improving how state park fees are determined and collected include (1) establishing a legislative fee policy that specifies the share of operational costs that should be borne by park users versus the General Fund (or alternative funding sources), (2) directing the State Parks and Recreation Commission to develop and regularly update fee guidelines to be implemented by state park districts in order to provide greater consistency throughout the state, and (3) specifying a fee-setting process that would be consistent statewide and provide greater opportunity for public input.

Report

The 2016-17 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

February 16, 2016 - The Governor’s budget for 2016–17 proposes a total of $9 billion in expenditures from various sources for programs administered by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agencies. In this report, we assess many of the Governor’s 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.