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The 2019-20 Budget: California State Library Local Assistance Proposals

April 25, 2019 - In this brief, we analyze the Governor’s proposals to provide one‑time General Fund for two local library initiatives—the Zip Books program and Lunch at the Library. We begin with an overview of the State Library and local libraries in California. We then describe and assess each proposal and offer associated recommendations.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Hastings College of the Law

April 24, 2019 - In this brief, we provide background on the Hastings College of the Law, then describe the Governor’s proposed budget for the law school and the school’s proposed spending plan. Next, we provide our assessment of Hastings’ budget and offer associated recommendations.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Reorganization of the Division of Juvenile Justice

April 10, 2019 - This report provides an overview of California’s juvenile justice system including DJJ and highlights several key questions raised by the Governor’s proposal for the Legislature to consider as the administration provides more detailed information on the proposal in the coming months.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Analysis of the Carve Out of Medi-Cal Pharmacy Services From Managed Care

April 5, 2019 - This report analyzes one of the two initiatives included in the Governor's executive order: to transition the pharmacy services benefit in Medi‑Cal, the state’s largest low‑income health care program, from managed care to entirely a fee‑for‑service (FFS) benefit directly paid for and administered by the state.

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A Review of LifeLine Budget Estimates and Enrollment Process

April 3, 2019 - The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC's) LifeLine program provides free or discounted phone service to about 1.7 million households and has an annual budget of more than $350 million. The Supplemental Report of the 2018-19 Budget Act requires our office to (1) review the caseload and budget estimates for this program and make recommendations about how CPUC could improve the accuracy of its estimates and (2) assess and make recommendations about ways to improve enrollment and re-enrollment in the program. This report fulfills those requirements.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Analysis of Proposed Increase in State Funding for Local Child Support Agencies

March 26, 2019 - In this report, we provide background on the current child support program. We then describe and assess the Governor’s 2019 20 proposal to create a new budgeting methodology that would increase funding for certain LCSAs by nearly $60 million General Fund. We recommend that the Legislature withhold action on the funding proposal until the administration submits the statutorily required report identifying potential state and local operational efficiencies.

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Older Youth Access to Foster Care

March 22, 2019 - The Supplemental Report of the 2018-19 Budget Act directed our office to submit a report to the Legislature reviewing data on the reporting of child abuse or neglect incidents among children who are aged 14 to 17 compared to younger children. In this report, we (1) describe how the state’s Child Welfare Services (CWS) system processes child abuse and neglect reports, (2) discuss observed similarities and differences in reporting outcomes between older and younger youth based on available data, (3) specify limitations in our ability to come to definitive conclusions regarding the treatment of reports for older youth compared to younger youth in the CWS system based on available data, and (4) provide recommendations for the collection of additional data to better understand the potential reasons for differences in outcomes between older and younger youth accessing foster care and determine whether policy interventions are appropriate.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Increasing Compliance With Unclaimed Property Law

March 15, 2019 - California requires banks, insurance companies, and many other businesses (called “holders”) to report and transfer to the state personal property considered abandoned by owners—this is called unclaimed property. Holder compliance with unclaimed property law is very low—likely around 1 percent. To address this problem, the Governor’s budget proposes allocating resources to the State Controller's Office (SCO) for more audits of potential holders. We agree with the Governor’s goal to increase holder compliance. However, the scale of SCO’s audits cannot address the vast holder under-compliance rate. To try to significantly increase holder compliance, this report presents policy options for legislative consideration.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Office of Emergency Services

March 13, 2019 - In this report, we assess the Governor’s 2019‑20 budget proposals for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES).

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The 2019-20 Budget: Assessing the Governor's 1991 Realignment Proposals

March 8, 2019 - This report evaluates the changes the Governor proposes and assesses whether the changes better position 1991 realignment to achieve its intended benefits and meet the principles of a successful state-county fiscal partnership we identified in our October report.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Analysis of Proposed Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion

March 6, 2019 - The state adopted an EITC in 2015 and expanded it in 2017 and 2018. The Governor proposes another expansion starting in 2019 that would (1) extend the income eligibility range to $30,000, (2) increase the credit amount for workers with dependents under age six, and (3) increase the credit amount for workers with earnings at the higher end of the current eligibility range. This report evaluates the Governor’s proposal, discusses potential alternative approaches, and examines implementation issues and options for providing credits on a monthly basis.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Tax Conformity

March 6, 2019 - The 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made significant changes to federal tax laws. Generally, the federal tax changes reduced tax rates and broadened the tax base (what is subject to tax). Because the state’s income tax laws closely refer to large portions of federal law, many of those changes created new differences between federal and state taxes. State law currently does not adopt—or conform to—any of the federal changes made in 2017. This report assesses the arguments for and against conforming to ten of those major changes. (Five of these conformity provisions are included in the Governor's proposal.)

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The 2019-20 Budget: California Department of Food and Agriculture

March 5, 2019 - In this analysis, we assess the Governor’s 2019‑20 budget proposals for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Specifically, we review and make recommendations regarding the Governor’s proposals to (1) create a new Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Division (CPDPD) within CDFA and (2) combine seven separate budget proposals into a single budget document. We also briefly discuss the Governor’s proposal related to safe and affordable drinking water.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Early Education Analysis

March 4, 2019 - In this report, we provide an overview of the Governor’s early education proposals, then analyze his three major proposals in this area. Specifically, we analyze his proposals to (1) fund facilities for more full‑day kindergarten programs, (2) make targeted one‑time improvements to the child care and preschool system, and (3) expand the number of full‑day preschool slots. We then assess the administration’s cost estimates for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) child care programs. We end the report with a summary of our early education recommendations.

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A Review of the State's Active Transportation Program

March 1, 2019 - The state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP)—administered by the California Transportation Commission (CTC), in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)—provides funding to infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects that facilitate travelers being physically active through biking and walking. Some of the primary goals of the program include increasing the number of walking and biking trips, increasing safety and mobility, and enhancing public health. In approving the 2018-19 budget package, the Legislature directed our office to review certain aspects of the program.