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The 2021-22 California Spending Plan: The State Appropriations Limit

August 30, 2021 - This post describes the legislative and administrative decisions regarding the State Appropriations Limit (SAL) in the 2021‑22 budget process.

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Annual Report on Tax Exemptions for Medicinal Cannabis

July 1, 2021 - Chapter 837 of 2019 (SB 34, Wiener) established new tax exemptions for donations of medicinal cannabis. The law directs our office to submit an annual report containing data on three outcomes related to the exemptions: the number of medicinal cannabis patients served, the amount of medicinal cannabis products donated, and the amount of tax revenue lost. This report fulfills that statutory requirement for 2020.

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The 2021-22 May Revision—Child Welfare Budget Proposals

June 11, 2021 - The Governor’s May Revision includes several proposals related to child welfare, including some updates to proposals included in the January Governor’s budget as well as some new proposals. This post provides an overview of the major May Revision proposals for child welfare in addition to our initial analysis and comments on these proposals. We note that these comments reflect our understanding of the May Revision proposals as of June 1, 2021.

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Repaying the State’s Federal Unemployment Insurance Loan

May 26, 2021 - The Governor’s 2021‑22 May Revision budget proposes $36 million General Fund to pay the first, partial payment on the state’s outstanding federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) loan and proposes to direct $1.1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds to pay down a portion of the outstanding loan. In this post, we (1) provide an overview of the state’s UI system financing, (2) highlight how the pandemic affected the UI system, (3) look ahead to upcoming costs to employers and the state to repay the federal UI loan, and (4) assess the Governor’s proposed $1.1 billion pre-payment.

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The 2021-22 Budget: Preliminary Comments on the Governor’s May Revision Proposal for Broadband Infrastructure

May 24, 2021 - The administration’s 2021-22 May Revision proposes up to $7 billion (federal and state funds) over two fiscal years to fund state broadband infrastructure projects and programs. In this post, we provide our preliminary comments on this proposal, reflecting our understanding of the proposal as of Sunday, May 23, and provide options for legislative consideration.

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The 2021-22 Budget: LAO Preliminary Comments on the Governor’s Major May Revision Behavioral Health Proposals

May 24, 2021 - In this post, we provide our preliminary comments on the Governor’s 2021-22 May Revision behavioral health proposals. We first provide an overview of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative proposal. We then provide some overarching comments on both (1) the initiative overall and (2) specific proposals within the initiative. We then provide an overview of the May Revision updates to the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure proposal, our comments on the adjustments made to this proposal, and remaining outstanding questions we have on this proposal.

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The 2021-22 Budget: Department of Developmental Services (DDS) May Revision Budget Proposal

May 24, 2021 - The revised 2021-22 Department of Developmental Services budget at May Revision includes $6.6 billion General Fund ($10.7 billion total funds), a 1.6 percent increase in General Fund spending from the budget proposed in January. This increase is driven in large part by a number of new policy proposals totaling approximately $80 million General Fund. In this post, we provide comments on one of the key policy proposals.

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The 2021-22 Budget: Multiyear Budget Outlook

May 23, 2021 - This report presents our office’s independent assessment of the condition of the state General Fund budget through 2024-25 assuming the economy continues to grow. While the state faces a historic surplus, a spending level beyond what is proposed by the Governor would require the Legislature to identify proposals to reject. Moreover, our analysis finds that the level of ongoing spending proposed by the Governor is only supportable with a revenue forecast that is more optimistic than the administration’s current estimates.

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The 2021-22 Budget: LAO Preliminary Comments on the May Revision Medi-Cal Budget

May 21, 2021 - In this post, we provide our preliminary comments on the Governor’s 2021‑22 May Revision proposal for Medi‑Cal. We first provide an overview of the proposal, noting the major changes made relative to the Governor’s January budget, as well as changes made to estimated 2020‑21 spending relative to the January estimates. We then describe, and provide our comments on, the Governor’s proposal to augment the January proposal for the California Advancing and Innovating Medi‑Cal (CalAIM) package. We follow with descriptions of, and comments on, the Governor’s modified telehealth policy proposal, the proposal to extend full‑scope Medi‑Cal coverage to older undocumented immigrants, and the proposal to use American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide financial relief for designated public hospitals.

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The 2021-22 May Revision: Golden State Stimulus 2

May 18, 2021 - This post provides an overview of state and federal stimulus payments to date, describes the Governor's May Revision proposal for a second round of Golden State Stimulus payments, and presents two alternatives that go further toward filling in the gaps in federal pandemic relief.

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The 2021-22 Budget: Initial Comments on the Governor’s May Revision

May 17, 2021 - On May 14, 2021, Governor Newsom presented a revised state budget proposal to the Legislature. (This annual proposed revised budget is called the “May Revision.”) In this post, we provide a summary of the Governor’s revised budget, focusing on the overall condition and structure of the state General Fund—the budget’s main operating account. In the coming days, we will analyze the plan in more detail and provide additional comments in hearing testimony and online.

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A Review of Child Care and Preschool Program Flexibilities in Certain Counties

May 13, 2021 - In this post we provide background on child care and preschool program flexibilities that have been granted to certain counties. We then assess these flexibilities and provide issues for the Legislature to consider in deciding whether to maintain flexibilities.

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The 2021-22 Budget: Analysis of the Governor’s Medi-Cal Telehealth Proposal

May 13, 2021 - This budget series post provides an overview of the Governor’s January budget proposal for an ongoing, post-pandemic Medi-Cal telehealth policy; an assessment of the Governor’s proposal; and issues for legislative consideration.

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Impact of COVID-19 on Health Care Access

May 7, 2021 - This post describes how coronavirus disease 2019 has affected access to health care in California through the earliest months of 2021. Contrary to expectations in light of the high level of pandemic-induced job losses, we find that health care coverage has either remained steady or potentially increased during the pandemic. We explore reasons why health care coverage trends have defied expectations. However, health care employment and utilization both declined significantly, particularly in the early months of the pandemic. Although access to care is trending toward pre-pandemic levels, continued monitoring of these trends is warranted. We provide several policy options that the Legislature could consider for sustaining and improving access to care, such as funding or making policy changes to address a deficit in children’s preventive services that has arisen among Medi-Cal-enrolled children during the pandemic.

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COVID-19: American Rescue Plan’s Major Health-Related Funding Provisions

May 6, 2021 - On March 11, 2021, the President signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act)—a $1.9 trillion coronavirus disease 2019 relief package. This post highlights the health-related provisions of the ARP Act that provide significant funding directly to state/local health care and public health agencies, rural hospitals, home- and community-based services programs, subsidized individual market health coverage programs, and public behavioral health services. Where possible, based on currently available information, we provide an estimate of the funding allocations to California governments and other entities in the state. While this post reflects our best understanding of the high-level content and implications of this legislation as of late April, we will update the post as new information and clarifications become available.