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The 2017-18 May Revision: LAO Analyses

May 12, 2017 - As our office publishes responses to the Governor's 2017-18 May Revision, we will add them to this index page.

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The 2016-17 May Revision: LAO Analyses

May 15, 2016 - As our office publishes responses to the Governor's 2016-17 May Revision, we will add them to this index page.

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The 2015-16 May Revision: LAO Analyses

May 15, 2015 - Unlike prior years in which we produced an Overview of the May Revision publication, this year we plan to release our assessment of the Governor’s May Revision in various products that will be found on this index page.

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The 2014-15 Budget: Overview of the May Revision

May 16, 2014 - On May 13, 2014, the Governor released the 2014-15 May Revision to his annual budget proposal. The package continues to build reserves and pay down debts, including a new proposal to fund the teachers' pension system over about 30 years. Our May revenue forecast projects $2.5 billion higher revenues compared with that of the administration—not substantially different given the size of the state budget. In addition, we project over $700 million more in local property taxes for school districts. If the Legislature were to adopt our office's higher revenue forecast and property tax estimates, General Fund spending under Proposition 98 would increase $2.7 billion, relative to the administration's May forecast. Assuming that the administration's non-Proposition 98 spending estimates are accurate, this would leave around $500 million available for building reserves, paying down more debts, and/or other state priorities.

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The 2013-14 Budget: Overview of the May Revision

May 17, 2013 - In the May Revision, the administration forecasts that weaker tax collections in the coming months will erode the vast majority of the $4.5 billion of unexpected tax revenues collected since January. We do not agree with the administration's view of the state's revenue situation. As a result, our forecast now is $3.2 billion higher than the administration's May Revision total for 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 combined. While the state's fiscal condition has improved, there are many good reasons for the Legislature to adopt a cautious budgetary posture. After years of "boom and bust" budgeting, California's leaders now have the opportunity to build a budget for future years that gives the state more choices about how to build reserves in times of healthy revenue growth, prioritize future state spending, and pay off past debts. Given the improved fiscal forecast, we believe this is an ideal time for the Legislature to begin addressing its huge budgetary and retirement liabilities. In addition, given various risks to the economic outlook and the state's budgetary volatility, building larger state budget reserves in the coming years is an important priority, as doing so means there will be less necessity during future downturns to cut public spending, as occurred in recent years.

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The 2012-13 Budget: Overview of the May Revision

May 18, 2012 - In the May Revision of his 2012-13 budget proposal, the Governor identified a larger budget problem of $15.7 billion for state leaders to address in the coming weeks. While we find that the administration's economic and revenue forecasts are reasonable, we are concerned that the amount of property tax revenues from former redevelopment agencies (RDAs) may be substantially less than the May Revision assumes in 2011-12 and 2012-13. If so, this could increase the state's Proposition 98 school funding obligations and, therefore, the size of the budget problem above administration estimates. Moreover, the administration's $1.4 billion estimate for the amount of General Fund benefit that may be achieved in 2012-13 from transferring former RDAs' liquid cash assets to school districts is highly uncertain. We advise the Legislature to focus on adopting realistic and ongoing budget actions to continue the progress the state has made in reducing its annual operating, or structural, deficit. We describe and assess the administration's major May Revision proposals. In some cases, we offer alternative ways to achieve the savings targeted by the Governor. With regard to Proposition 98, we offer alternatives to both the Governor's basic budget plan and his trigger plan.

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The 2011-12 Budget: Overview of the May Revision

May 19, 2011 - Significantly improved General Fund revenue trends since January and over $13 billion of budget actions already approved by the Legislature have reduced the size of the budget gap still to be addressed by California’s elected leaders. The administration identifies a $9.6 billion remaining budget problem based on generally reasonable 2010-11 and 2011-12 revenue and expenditure assumptions. The Governor’s plan to address this shortfall and leave the state with a $1.2 billion reserve at the end of 2011-12 has many positive aspects. It would help bring annual spending and resources much closer in line for the next five years, and its focus on reducing budgetary debt obligations is laudable. On the other hand, the Legislature has other options to address the reduced budget shortfall, including adoption of alternative tax proposals, additional program reductions, and selected fund transfers and internal borrowing. The improved economic and revenue situation, along with significant budgetary solutions already adopted, mean that California now is in a position to dramatically shrink its budget problem with a focus on ongoing budget solutions.

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Overview of the 2010-11 May Revision

May 18, 2010 - In the May Revision, the administration identifies a $17.9 billion gap between current-law resources and expenditures in California's 2010-11 General Fund budget. This estimate is reasonable. In addressing the shortfall, the Legislature should reject the Governor's most drastic spending cuts, especially his proposed elimination of CalWORKs and child care funding. Alternative spending reductions could help sustain critical components of these core programs for the state's neediest families, and some of the Governor's most severe cuts could be avoided by adopting selected revenue increases. The report also describes the Legislature's options in deciding how much education spending the state can afford in this difficult budget year, when elected leaders also need to focus on longer-term policy changes that will better prepare California to cope with future economic downturns.

(Video of press conference)

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Overview of the 2009-10 May Revision

May 21, 2009 - The Governor's estimate of a new $21 billion budget problem is reasonable. The May Revision proposals include major spending reductions and serious efforts for long–term state efficiencies and savings. By acting quickly and reducing reliance on some of the Governor’s riskiest proposals--such as financing $5.5 billion of the deficit by issuing revenue anticipation warrants--the Legislature can return the budget to balance, prevent another state cash crunch, and preserve core funding for what it deems to be California’s long–term priorities. To accomplish these goals, the Legislature now needs to cut lower–priority programs substantially or eliminate them. To address significant budget deficits forecast in future years, the Legislature also needs to begin work this year on measures that further improve the efficiency of state services for 2010–11 and beyond. (Note: the Appendix in the HTML version was corrected as of 2:30 p.m. on May 21, 2009.)

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Overview of the 2008-09 May Revision

May 19, 2008 - The state faces a remaining budget shortfall of $15 billion, after accounting for the $7 billion in solutions adopted as part of the special session. We have updated our LAO alternative budget, which remains balanced through our forecast period, to reflect the state’s worsening fiscal situation. Our plan includes a more responsible lottery securitization—resulting in a General Fund benefit of $5.6 billion over two years—with a dramatically reduced risk to education’s lottery funding. Finally, we offer some much simpler approaches to increasing the size of the state’s reserve in good fiscal times.

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Overview of the 2007-08 May Revision

May 15, 2007 - The administration released its May Revision yesterday, identifying over $2 billion in new budget solutions to address a comparable level of increased budgetary problem. In this document, we provide our initial assessment of the problem definition and the viability of the administration’s proposed solutions.

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Overview of the 2006-07 May Revision

May 15, 2006 - The state’s strong revenue performance-a $7.5 billion increase since January-presents an extraordinary opportunity for the Legislature. Key decisions are: (1) how much of the increase should be provided to K-14 education, (2) should increased school funding be allocated to new initiatives or to strengthen existing programs and pay off debts, and (3) which state debt should be prepaid? We urge the Legislature to focus on regaining the state’s fiscal balance, particularly in light of the risks and uncertainties facing the state.

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Overview of the 2005-06 May Revision

May 16, 2005 - The May Revision proposes to use about $4 billion in new funds generated from an improved revenue outlook to reduce budgetary debt and restore the Proposition 42 transfer to transportation. We believe the administration’s general approach of using the resources for debt reduction and one-time purposes is sensible in light of the state’s structural budget shortfall. We strongly urge the Legislature to aim at ongoing solutions which are of the same magnitude as the administration’s proposal.

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Overview of the 2004-05 May Revision

May 17, 2004 - The state's near-term fiscal picture has improved significantly as a result of an improved revenue outlook and the one-time receipt of funds. Despite this improvement, the state's long-term fiscal outlook relative to the January budget plan has worsened. The May Revision plan misses an opportunity to make further progress toward eliminating the state's long-term structural imbalance.

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Overview of the 2003-04 May Revision

May 19, 2003 - The May Revision adopts a multiyear approach to addressing the state's massive budget problem, relying more on borrowing and less on near-term spending reductions than the January proposal. Adoption of the plan would likely result in a precariously balanced 2003-04 budget, but would leave the state with a still-formidable structural imbalance between ongoing revenues and expenditures in the future. Primarily because of this imbalance, we believe that if the Governor's multiyear approach is adopted, it should include additional ongoing solutions beyond those proposed in the May Revision.