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Report

Improving California’s Response to the Environmental and Safety Hazards Caused by Abandoned Mines

August 4, 2020 - This report consists of three sections. First, in the background section, we describe (1) historical mining practices, (2) the risks AMLs pose to the environment and the physical safety hazards they cause, (3) the coordination across the many state and federal agencies to address AML issues, and (4) laws and programs governing the remediation of AMLs. In the second section of the report, we discuss key challenges to systematically remediating AMLs, such as a lack of a centralized statewide approach, land ownership issues, and lack of funding. In the third and final section, we recommend steps the Legislature could take to improve California’s approach to addressing the threats to public health and the environment caused by AMLs.

Report

Supplemental Report of the 2020-21 Budget Act

July 29, 2020 - The Supplemental Report of the 2020-21 Budget Act contains statements of legislative intent that were adopted during deliberations on the 2020-21 budget package.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Initial Comments on the Governor’s May Revision

May 17, 2020 - On May 14, 2020, Governor Newsom presented a revised state budget proposal to the Legislature. In this post, we provide an overview of the overall budget condition under the May Revision estimates and proposals; the major actions the Governor took to close an estimated $54 billion budget gap; and give our initial comments on this budget package.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: California's Spring Fiscal Outlook

May 8, 2020 - This report provides an update on the budget’s condition in light of the public health emergency and economic downturn associated with the coronavirus disease 2019. Our outlook presents two potential scenarios—a somewhat optimistic “U-shaped” recession and a somewhat pessimistic “L-shaped” recession—and assumes a baseline level of expenditures. Under these two scenarios, the state would have to address an $18 billion or $31 billion budget problem. The state’s newly emergent fiscal challenges are likely to extend well beyond the end of the public health crisis. Under both of our economic scenarios, budget deficits persist until at least 2023-24 with multiyear deficits summing to $64 billion in the U-shaped recession and $126 billion in the L-shaped recession.

Video: Press Availability Video Call

Report

Assessing Recent Changes to California Competes

March 30, 2020 - California Competes is an economic development tax incentive program that allows the administration to negotiate tax credit agreements with individual companies that agree to meet multiyear hiring and investment targets. In this report we provide background information about the California Competes program and the changes that the Legislature made in 2018. Next, we describe the effects of these changes on the program in 2018‑19, the first year of their implementation. We then assess how the changes have affected the administration of the California Competes program and consider whether it is more or less effective than before. Lastly, looking forward, we suggest working to find ways to expand the pool of qualified applicants and advise the Legislature to continue its oversight of the program.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Expanding the Minimum Franchise Tax Exemption

March 23, 2020 - In this budget analysis brief, we provide background information on the current tax expenditure and assess the merits of the administration’s proposal to expand it. We conclude that the Legislature should reject the Governor’s proposal. We further suggest the Legislature reconsider the current exemption.

Report

Review of the Draft 2020 High-Speed Rail Business Plan

March 13, 2020 - In this report, we identify a number of key issues for legislative oversight. First, we point out that the near‑ and long‑term schedules identified in the draft 2020 business plan appear ambitious. Second, we identify some near‑ and long‑term funding challenges confronting the project. Third, we raise concerns that HSRA’s plan to use a third‑party public entity to operate interim service from Merced to Bakersfield appears to be inconsistent with the spirit of Proposition 1A. Forth, we identify some of the key assumptions made by the ETO that affect its assessment of alternatives. Fifth, we identify some key actions that HSRA plans to take in the coming months that will significantly limit the state’s flexibility to change its approach to the project in the future.

Report

Analysis of California’s Physician-Supervision Requirement for Certified Nurse Midwives

March 11, 2020 - In an effort to ensure safety and quality, California state law places occupational licensing restrictions on who may provide childbirth and reproductive-related health care services to women. These restrictions include a requirement that nurse midwives may only practice under the supervision of a licensed physician. At the request of a member of the Legislature, this report analyzes whether this requirement is meeting its intended safety and quality objectives, without significantly increasing cost or decreasing access to health care services. Drawing on national research—that compares health care outcomes in states with and without a similar physician-supervision requirement for nurse midwives—we find that California's requirement is unlikely to improve safety and quality for low-risk pregnancies and births. Moreover, we find that the requirement could limit access to nurse-midwife services, and potentially health care services for women overall, while also raising the cost of care. We recommend that the Legislature consider removing the state’s physician-supervision requirement, while adding other safeguards to ensure safety and quality. Such safeguards could include, for example, requiring nurse midwives to maintain appropriate referral and consultative relationships with physicians and requiring that they maintain medical malpractice insurance.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Proposition 2 Debt Payment Proposals

March 10, 2020 - Over the next decade, the state will be required to allocate an additional $12 billion to $21 billion to accelerate the pay down of state retirement liabilities under the provisions of Proposition 2 (2014). This represents a key and unique opportunity for the state. The Governor offers one strategy to prioritize these funds over the next few years. Notably, the Governor focuses on the state’s share of the unfunded liability for teachers’ pensions. While we agree this focus makes sense, the amounts the Governor proposes dedicating to this purpose are not connected to the specific actuarial needs of the teachers’ pension system. In this report, we present a method the Legislature could use to tie these payments to the system’s actual needs, which would better target the funding.

Report

Excess ERAF: A Review of the Calculations Affecting School Funding

March 6, 2020 - This report focuses on a state law enacted in the 1990s that shifts some of the property tax revenue in certain counties from schools and community colleges to other local agencies. For historical reasons, the shifted revenue is known as “excess ERAF.” (The acronym refers to the local accounts—known as Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds—that facilitate the shift.) We recently found that some counties are calculating excess ERAF in ways that seem contrary to state law and shift too much property tax revenue from schools to other agencies. We have three specific concerns related to the calculation of excess ERAF that together affect about $350 million in annual property tax revenue. Earlier this year, the Newsom administration began to address one of these concerns. In this report, we recommend the Legislature direct the administration to enforce state law on our other two concerns. We also recommend improving oversight to prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

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The 2020-21 Budget: California Department of Food and Agriculture

February 28, 2020 - In this analysis we assess the Governor’s 2020‑21 budget proposals for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Specifically, we make recommendations regarding the Governor’s proposals to (1) fund a comprehensive assessment to identify solutions to the California Exposition and State Fair’s (Cal Expo) declining revenues and make available funding to offset near‑term deficiencies, and (2) establish a Fresno‑Merced innovation corridor to boost the region’s economy.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Effectively Managing State Prison Infrastructure

February 28, 2020 - Given the magnitude of the state’s prison infrastructure needs, combined with the possibility of closing a prison in the near future, it will be important for the state to think strategically about managing its prison infrastructure—both in the near term and long term. In this report, we (1) provide an overview of the state’s prison infrastructure, (2) discuss the major drivers of prison infrastructure needs and spending, and (3) provide a road map to guide the Legislature in the development of a plan to strategically manage the state’s prison infrastructure.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Re-Envisioning Medi-Cal—The CalAIM Proposal

February 28, 2020 - In this report, we provide an overview and assessment of the Governor's California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) proposal, also known as Medi-Cal Healthier California for All. CalAIM would make far-reaching reforms to Medi-Cal that would increase the program’s focus on its high-cost and high-needs enrollee populations, transform and streamline Medi-Cal managed care, extend components of a current federal waiver, and rethink how behavioral health services are financed and delivered.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: California Student Aid Commission

February 27, 2020 - In this brief, we provide an overview of the Governor’s proposed budget for the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). We then (1) assess the Governor’s Cal Grant cost estimates, (2) analyze the Governor’s proposal to fund a student loan outreach initiative, and (3) analyze the Governor’s state operations proposals for CSAC.

Report

The 2020-21 Budget: Reinventing the Department of Business Oversight

February 26, 2020 - The Governor proposes budget trailer legislation to make various changes related to the Department of Business Oversight. In this report, we assess the Governor's proposals and make recommendations for the Legislature to consider.