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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.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Governor's Proposals for Infants and Toddlers With Special Needs

February 28, 2019 - In this report, we evaluate three Governor's budget proposals related to early intervention services for infants and toddlers with special needs. These include: (1) $60 million ongoing (split between Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenues and federal Medicaid funding) to provide supplemental payments to physicians who screen children covered by Medi-Cal for developmental delays, (2) four new positions (at a cost of $446,000 General Fund) to increase state oversight of Regional Center early intervention services, and (3) possible forthcoming trailer bill language to improve transitions for children aging out of early intervention services and into preschool special education. We recommend rejecting the proposed supplemental payments and approving the other two proposals and further recommend the Legislature consider broader reforms to address longstanding weaknesses in the state's early intervention system.

Update (3/4/19): Figure 3 totals adjusted.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Transportation Proposals

February 26, 2019 - The Governor's budget provides a total of $23.5 billion from various fund sources for all transportation departments and programs in 2019-20. This is a net increase of $1.4 billion, or 6 percent, over estimated current-year expenditures. In this report, we (1) review the Governor's 2019-20 transportation proposals, including those for the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA), the implementation of REAL ID, and the high-speed rail project, and (2) identify issues for legislative consideration.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Analysis of the Department of Developmental Services Budget

February 25, 2019 - In this report, we evaluate the Governor's budget proposals for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). The proposed 2019-20 DDS budget is projected to reach $7.8 billion ($4.8 billion General Fund), with the caseload of individuals with developmental disabilities served mostly in community-based programs projected to reach nearly 350,000. The total increase in spending is offset somewhat by declining spending on general treatment Developmental Centers, which are scheduled to close by the end of 2019. The Governor's budget proposes to reorganize DDS, based in part on these closures as well as on DDS’ evolving responsibilities as it serves individuals in community settings and adjusts to meeting related upcoming federal requirements that significantly impact the service delivery model. The budget also proposes enhancement of "safety net" and crisis services for individuals in crisis and at risk of displacement from their regular homes or needing temporary residential placements.

Correction (3/6/19): Safety net and crisis home capacity numbers have been updated in Figure 4.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Using Proposition 56 Funding in Medi-Cal to Improve Access to Quality Care

February 22, 2019 - This report analyzes the use of Proposition 56 (2016) funding in Medi‑Cal to improve access to quality care. First, we provide background on how Medi‑Cal services are financed within Medi‑Cal’s multiple delivery systems. Then, we review how access and quality are monitored, primarily within Medi‑Cal’s managed care delivery system. We summarize how Proposition 56 funding in Medi‑Cal has been used to date, and the changes proposed under the Governor’s 2019‑20 budget. Next, we assess Medi‑Cal managed care plans’ performance on selected state access and quality standards. Finally, we provide issues for consideration and recommendations on how to use Proposition 56 funding in Medi‑Cal going forward to improve access to quality care.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 21, 2019 - In this report, we analyze the Governor's higher education budget proposals.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Considerations for Governor's Proposals to Address Homelessness

February 21, 2019 - In this report, we describe the Governor’s proposed $625 million appropriation for various programs aimed at addressing homelessness. Specifically, the Governor proposes (1) planning and production grants to local governments, (2) expanding the Whole Person Care pilot programs, and (3) funding the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program on an ongoing basis.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Considerations for the Governor's Housing Plan

February 20, 2019 - In this report, we describe the Governor’s proposed $1.75 billion appropriation for various programs aimed at improving the affordability of housing in the state. Specifically, the Governor proposes (1) providing planning and production grants to local governments, (2) expanding the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, (3) establishing a new state housing tax credit program targeting relatively higher-income households, and (4) expanding a loan program for middle-income housing production.