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December 11, 2018 - The California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) administers a sales tax exemption for equipment used for certain manufacturing activities. (Many people refer to this program as an exclusion rather than an exemption.) Under current law, this program will end on January 1, 2021. Public Resources Code 26011.8(g) requires our office to report on the effectiveness of the program—including its economic, fiscal, and environmental effects—by January 1, 2019. This report fulfills that statutory requirement.
November 26, 2018 - Taxes on sugary drinks have become increasingly common in recent years. In June 2018, the Legislature passed a law (Chapter 61 of 2018 [AB 1838, Committee on Budget]) prohibiting local governments from levying such taxes (and other taxes on groceries) through 2030. The law stated the Legislature’s intent to regulate the imposition and collection of such taxes to the exclusion of local action. As such, the Legislature may face the following decisions: (1) Should the state levy an excise tax on sugary drinks? and (2) If so, how should the tax be designed? This report provides information and perspectives for the Legislature to consider as it weighs these choices.
November 14, 2018 - In this report, we examine how the minimum guarantee might change over the next several years and discuss the factors likely to be driving those changes. We then examine key aspects of district budgets—focusing on the main cost pressures facing districts over the next several years.
In addition to this report, you can find the main California's Fiscal Outlook report along with a collection of other fiscal outlook material on our fiscal outlook budget page.
October 15, 2018 - California has shifted programmatic and funding responsibility between the state and counties for various programs over the last 40 years. Historically, these shifts—or realignments—aimed to benefit both the state and counties by providing greater local flexibility over services, allowing counties opportunities to innovate and improve program outcomes, and encouraging cost savings by requiring counties to share in program costs. To achieve these benefits, we believe there are certain principles any realignment needs to follow. This report evaluates the extent to which one of California’s more notable realignments undertaken in 1991 achieves the intended benefits and meets these principles.
October 8, 2018 - Housing is very expensive in California—in early 2018, the typical California home cost $481,000, roughly double the price of the typical home in the United States. The state offers the Property Tax Postponement (PTP) Program to help certain homeowners afford their property taxes and stay in their homes. This report evaluates the advantages and shortcomings of the PTP and offers policy alternatives for legislative consideration.
September 27, 2018 - Individuals with developmental disabilities face a number of behavioral, cognitive, and physical challenges that can adversely affect their health. Oral health is no exception. Individuals with developmental disabilities often need extra appointments or special accommodations that dentists may be unwilling or unable to provide. This report analyzes the extent to which dental services are available and sufficient for individuals with developmental disabilities. Finding that access challenges exist, we consider options and make recommendations for improving access.
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.
June 7, 2018 - The state’s transportation system helps to move people and goods around and through the state. The aim of this primer is to provide policymakers and the public with key information about this system. The primer begins with a chapter describing transportation governance. The subsequent five chapters consist of visual charts that provide information about the following:
May 14, 2018 - In this report, we analyze the 2018-19 May Revision education proposals. We first provide an overview of Proposition 98 funding and then focus on the Governor’s major proposals for K‑12 education, child care and preschool, community colleges, universities, and student financial aid. In the pages that follow, we offer many specific recommendations for the Legislature to consider. Our package of recommendations includes adopting some proposals, modifying others in certain ways, rejecting others but inviting better proposals next year, and rejecting some proposals in their entirety.
April 12, 2018 - The state and local governments collected about $220 billion in tax revenue in 2015‑16—equal to nearly 10 percent of the California economy. The personal income tax is the state's main revenue source, the property tax is the major local tax, and the state and local governments both receive revenue from the sales and use tax. In addition, many smaller taxes raise revenue for state and local government operations. This visual guide explains California's tax system using over 40 data visualizations. The report examines various characteristics of the tax system including what items are taxed, who pays the taxes, and how taxes are used.
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.
April 4, 2018 - The 2017-18 budget package authorized a plan to borrow $6 billion from the Pooled Money Investment Account—an account that is essentially the state’s checking account—to make a one-time supplemental payment to the California Public Employees' Retirement System. All funds that make pension payments will repay the loan over the next decade or so. Authorizing legislation gives the administration some discretion over how funds will repay the loan, but the statute includes a variety of repayment requirements. In our view, while the basic elements of the administration’s repayment plan are reasonable, we have serious concerns about some choices the administration made. To address these concerns, in this report, we recommend a modified repayment approach that would: (1) be consistent with the authorizing legislation, (2) allocate repayment costs across funds appropriately and publicly, and (3) provide incentives to create more cost-effective outcomes.
April 4, 2018 - In 2017, the Legislature passed two laws that made major changes to tax administration and appeals in California. Prior to these laws, the Board of Equalization (BOE) had administrative and appeals responsibilities for many taxes and fees. The laws created two new departments—the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA)—and transferred most of BOE’s duties to these departments.
March 21, 2018 - This budget brief analyzes the Governor’s 2018-19 budget proposal to eliminate the use of the 340B Drug Pricing Program in Medi-Cal. The Governor’s proposed statutory changes are intended to generate state savings and reduce the administrative complexity of complying with federal law on duplicate discounts when 340B prescriptions drugs are dispensed to Medi-Cal enrollees. We find that the Governor’s proposal merits serious consideration from the Legislature since, among other benefits, it would likely result in state savings that the Legislature could, in turn, use to fund its priorities. We note, however, that these savings would be in place of savings currently enjoyed by eligible healthcare providers. Before making a decision on the Governor’s proposal, we recommend that the Legislature ask the administration to provide the following key information on the Governor’s proposal: (1) the amount of Medi-Cal savings that would be generated, (2) the impact on healthcare providers currently participating in the 340B Program, and (3) the trade-offs of alternative policy approaches to addressing the challenges that are present due to the use of the 340B Program in Medi-Cal.
March 15, 2018 - In this report, we explain how the existing credit works and why so few taxpayers are claiming it. Then we describe and comment on the administration’s California Hiring Credit proposal, which would improve upon the existing credit in some respects. We conclude with some options for making more fundamental changes to the credit.