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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.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Hastings College of the Law

March 13, 2020 - In this post, we analyze the Governor’s proposal to provide Hastings College of the Law with a $1.4 million ongoing, unrestricted General Fund increase. As it reviews this budget request, we encourage the Legislature to consider each aspect of the school’s plan to increase overall operational spending, reduce tuition discounting, grow enrollment, and eliminate its operating deficit.

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Climate Change and Transit

March 11, 2020 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation Hon. Richard Bloom, Chair

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The 2020-21 Budget: Fresno Integrated K-16 Education Collaborative

March 11, 2020 - In this post, we analyze the Governor’s proposal to provide $17 million one-time General Fund to establish the Fresno Integrated K-16 Education Collaborative. The primary objective of the proposal is to create more education pathways in the greater Fresno region that help students transition from high school into college and the workforce. We raise several concerns with the proposal and recommend the Legislature consider other one-time spending options.

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Analysis of California’s Physician-Supervision Requirement for Certified Nurse Midwives

March 11, 2020 - In an effort to ensure safety and quality, California state law places occupational licensing restrictions on who may provide childbirth and reproductive-related health care services to women. These restrictions include a requirement that nurse midwives may only practice under the supervision of a licensed physician. At the request of a member of the Legislature, this report analyzes whether this requirement is meeting its intended safety and quality objectives, without significantly increasing cost or decreasing access to health care services. Drawing on national research—that compares health care outcomes in states with and without a similar physician-supervision requirement for nurse midwives—we find that California's requirement is unlikely to improve safety and quality for low-risk pregnancies and births. Moreover, we find that the requirement could limit access to nurse-midwife services, and potentially health care services for women overall, while also raising the cost of care. We recommend that the Legislature consider removing the state’s physician-supervision requirement, while adding other safeguards to ensure safety and quality. Such safeguards could include, for example, requiring nurse midwives to maintain appropriate referral and consultative relationships with physicians and requiring that they maintain medical malpractice insurance.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Governor’s Computer Science Proposals

March 10, 2020 - In this post, we analyze the Governor’s proposals to increase the capacity of school districts to teach computer science. We first provide background on computer science in California schools, then describe the Governor’s proposals, assess the proposals, and offer associated recommendations.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Proposition 2 Debt Payment Proposals

March 10, 2020 - Over the next decade, the state will be required to allocate an additional $12 billion to $21 billion to accelerate the pay down of state retirement liabilities under the provisions of Proposition 2 (2014). This represents a key and unique opportunity for the state. The Governor offers one strategy to prioritize these funds over the next few years. Notably, the Governor focuses on the state’s share of the unfunded liability for teachers’ pensions. While we agree this focus makes sense, the amounts the Governor proposes dedicating to this purpose are not connected to the specific actuarial needs of the teachers’ pension system. In this report, we present a method the Legislature could use to tie these payments to the system’s actual needs, which would better target the funding.

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Excess ERAF: A Review of the Calculations Affecting School Funding

March 6, 2020 - This report focuses on a state law enacted in the 1990s that shifts some of the property tax revenue in certain counties from schools and community colleges to other local agencies. For historical reasons, the shifted revenue is known as “excess ERAF.” (The acronym refers to the local accounts—known as Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds—that facilitate the shift.) We recently found that some counties are calculating excess ERAF in ways that seem contrary to state law and shift too much property tax revenue from schools to other agencies. We have three specific concerns related to the calculation of excess ERAF that together affect about $350 million in annual property tax revenue. Earlier this year, the Newsom administration began to address one of these concerns. In this report, we recommend the Legislature direct the administration to enforce state law on our other two concerns. We also recommend improving oversight to prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

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Overview of Proposition 98 Budget Proposals

March 5, 2020 - Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education Finance

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Overview of Governor’s Special Education Proposals

March 5, 2020 - Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 On Education Finance

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The 2020-21 Budget: U-Visa I-918 Form Mandate

March 4, 2020 - State law directs our office to report on the annual state costs for new state-reimbursable mandates and make recommendations to the Legislature as to whether the new mandates should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. This analysis fulfills that requirement for the U-Visa I-918 Form, Victims of Crime: Nonimmigrant Status mandate, which is one of two newly identified state mandates in the 2020-21 budget.

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Overview of Proposition 98 Budget and Early Education Proposals

March 4, 2020 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance

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The 2020-21 Budget: Local Agency Employee Organizations, Impasse Procedures II

March 4, 2020 - State law directs our office to report on the annual state costs for new state-reimbursable mandates and make recommendations to the Legislature as to whether the new mandates should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. This analysis fulfills that requirement for the Local Agency Employee Organizations, Impasse Procedures II mandate, which is one of two newly identified state mandates in the 2020-21 budget.