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February 7, 2020 - The Arts Council conducts a range of activities in order to support arts in California. In carrying out this mandate, the Arts Council focuses its efforts on the development of various grant programs to support artists and organizations. In addition, the state budget has recently included funds for the Arts Council to distribute to specific museums and other cultural institutions. The Governor’s budget proposes $49 million, mostly from the General Fund, for support of the Arts Council in 2020‑21. As we discuss in this brief, the Governor’s budget proposes $10.5 million from the General Fund on a one‑time basis to expand and extend two existing Arts Council pilot programs—one focused on state‑designated cultural districts and one focused on disaster preparedness. In order to facilitate the Legislature’s evaluation of these extended pilots when they are complete, we recommend that the Legislature (1) establish clear goals for the pilots and (2) direct the Arts Council to develop and evaluate measureable outcomes related to the goals prior to requesting additional funding for these programs.
February 7, 2020 - The following report assesses the Governor’s proposed 2020‑21 budget for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), which currently serves about 350,000 individuals with qualifying developmental disabilities in California. We first provide an overview of the budget proposal, including caseload projections and changes in year‑over‑year spending. We then consider four key new policy proposals. First, and most significantly, we consider the Governor’s proposal for a performance‑incentive program, which appears to represent a new direction for the DDS system. Second, we assess the Governor’s proposal to provide supplemental rate increases in additional service categories in 2020‑21. Third, we review a proposal to reduce the caseloads of service coordinators who work with children ages 3, 4, and 5. Finally, we examine the Governor’s proposed additions to DDS’ crisis and safety net services.
February 7, 2020 - As part of his budget plan for 2020‑21, the Governor proposes six government reorganizations across several policy areas. In many cases, the Governor proposes consolidating agencies or shifting responsibilities from existing agencies to newly established entities. The proposals would affect a broad array of state departments, offices, and commissions that perform a wide range of functions. In reviewing the Governor’s reorganization proposals, there are many issues for the Legislature to consider in determining whether to approve or reject each proposal. In this brief, we outline a broad framework to consider these issues. Specifically, we recommend that the Legislature consider key questions when evaluating the proposals.
February 4, 2020 - In this brief, we find that the major reasons why CDCR’s costs did not decline in line with the substantial decrease in the populations are: (1) costly operational changes to comply with various federal court orders, (2) increased employee compensation costs, and (3) the payment of costs that were deferred during the state’s fiscal crisis. However, we note that had the inmate population not declined over this period, CDCR spending would have increased by billions of dollars more than it actually did.
January 31, 2020 - In response to concerns over K‑12 student achievement gaps, the Legislature tasked our office with convening a work group on the topic and submitting a report. The required report needed to: (1) examine data on K‑12 student achievement gaps, (2) identify funding provided for disadvantaged and low‑performing students, (3) assess existing state efforts to serve these students, and (4) develop options for better supporting these students. This report responds to these requirements.
January 29, 2020 - Presented to: Assembly Education Committee
January 24, 2020 - SB 1 has increased state funding for local streets and roads by $1.3 billion—a doubling of the previous level of shared revenues—with additional revenue increases projected in current and future years.
January 24, 2020 - State law authorizes the California Community Colleges (CCC) to award associate degrees, generally limiting the awarding of more advanced degrees to the state’s universities. As an exception to this rule, Chapter 747 of 2014 (SB 850, Block) authorized CCC to offer bachelor’s degrees on a pilot basis at up to 15 community colleges. Chapter 747 directed our office to conduct an interim evaluation of the pilot by July 1, 2018 and a final evaluation by July 1, 2022. This report reflects our final evaluation.
January 23, 2020 - Presented to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
January 22, 2020 - The 2020-21 Governor’s Budget includes 18 budget proposals related to labor and employment programs. This post provides a high-level overview of these proposals. Our office plans to evaluate several of these proposals more closely in the coming weeks.
January 22, 2020 - Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Health and Human Services
January 22, 2020 - Presented to the Assembly Budget Committee
January 21, 2020 - In this report, we examine district budgets—both looking back at actual experiences to date and looking ahead at what experiences could be over the next few years. First, we provide background on districts and their budgets. We then discuss trends in districts’ main cost drivers. Next, we examine overall district fiscal health, with a particular focus on districts in fiscal distress. In the final section, we identify some ways the Legislature could help school districts address their cost pressures moving forward.
January 13, 2020 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s budget. We estimate the Governor had a $6 billion surplus to allocate to discretionary purposes in 2020-21. The Governor allocates most of the surplus toward one-time purposes, including maintaining a positive year-end balance in the state’s discretionary reserve. Under the administration’s estimates, total reserves would reach $20.5 billion at the end of 2020-21—this represents a $1.7 billion increase from the 2019-20 enacted level. California continues to enjoy a healthy fiscal situation. Despite its positive near-term picture, the budget’s multiyear outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. In addition to describing the condition of the budget under the Governor’s proposal, this report discusses tools the Legislature can use to mitigate against these heightened risks.
January 20, 2020: Upon further review, one item included in the original version of Appendix Figure 3 on discretionary on health spending should not have been included (specfically, use of the Medi-Cal drug rebate fund to offset General Fund costs). Removing this item—which reduces General Fund spending—from the list of discretionary choices made in the Governor’s budget increases our calculation of the surplus to $6 billion. The document is updated to reflect these changes.
Update 1/24/20: Adjusted Judicial Branch items in Appendix Figure 1 to reflect ongoing spending.
January 9, 2020 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 18 (Psychiatric Technicians). This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.
Corrected 1/10/2020: Changed Figure 3 and reference to the figure in text.