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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 4/21/2010
Budget Issue: Proposed $3 million augmentation to support the new redistricting process.
Program: Citizens Redistricting Initiative
Finding or Recommendation: Recommend that the Legislature deny the administration's request for additional funding and direct the Department of Finance and Secretary of State to begin planning for the redistricting commission's likely needs. The commission may come to the Legislature and ask for additional funds next year as permitted by Proposition 11 (2008).
Further Detail


Voters approved Proposition 11 in November 2008, which created the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission. It is charged with drawing district boundaries every ten years for the State Assembly, State Senate, and Board of Equalization beginning after the 2010 Census. Proposition 11 specifies that at least $3 million (plus inflation from the last redistricting cycle) be provided for the redistricting process (including assembling the commission, drawing maps, and other related activities). The Bureau of State Audits (BSA) has responsibilities of assembling the commission under specific guidelines.  The Secretary of State is charged with staffing the commission until the commission can hire their own staff and contract for other costs.

The Legislature appropriated $3 million in the 2009-10 Budget Act to cover costs of the new redistricting process to be spent over three years (from 2009-10 to 2011-12). In September 2009, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) transferred $500,000 of this amount to the BSA to cover some of its costs.

The BSA has estimated that assembling the commission will cost about $3.5 million. Beyond the $500,000 allocated by JLBC, the BSA has indicated that it will be able to absorb the remaining costs within its existing appropriations from the State Audit Fund—a special fund that receives transfers from the General Fund each year to cover BSA costs. Accordingly, about $2.5 million remains available from the $3 million General Fund appropriation in the 2009-10 budget.

Governor’s Proposal

In addition to the three-year, $3 million appropriation in the 2009-10 Budget Act, the 2010-11 Governor’s Budget proposes another $3 million to support the new redistricting process. The Governor has not submitted a plan for the allocation of this additional money or a plan of expected costs that would be incurred by the commission or the Secretary of State.

LAO Comments

Costs of Commission Uncertain. The Citizens Redistricting Commission will be California's first experience with an independent citizens commission to redraw district boundaries. Accordingly, we note the inherent uncertainties in budgeting for the nine-month commission. Proposition 11 supporters have indicated, however, that likely costs will include outreach, technical expertise, legal counsel knowledgeable in voting rights law, mapping software, various commissioner expenses and operation needs will be required for a successful effort. It is unclear if and how much more—beyond the $2.5 million remaining in the 2009-10 General Fund appropriation—will be required for the commission’s efforts.

Minimum Requirement for Redistricting Appropriations Already Met. Propostion 11 requires that at least $3 million (plus inflation from the last redistricting cycle completed after the 2000 Census) be provided for the redistricting work. The $3 million appropriated in the 2009-10 budget plus the anticipated $3 million to be spent by BSA from its State Audit Fund appropriations means that the Legislature already has met Proposition 11’s minimum funding requirement. Proposition 11 also permits the Legislature to provide additional appropriations if it determines more is needed for the commission to fulfill its duties.


Deny the Administration’s Request for Additional Funding. We recommend that the Legislature reject the administration’s request for an additional $3 million in funding for the commission. With $2.5 million of last year’s General Fund appropriation still available, the commission should be able to begin its work in the last six months of 2010-11. Once seated and more familiar with the costs needed to complete its work in 2011-12, the commission may come to the Legislature and ask for additional funds next year as permitted by Proposition 11.

Direct Administration to Begin Planning for Commission’s Needs. The commission has a relatively short timeline to complete its work. As noted above, the Secretary of State has responsibilities to help the commission begin its deliberations. We recommend that the Legislature direct the Department of Finance and the Secretary of State to plan for the Commission’s possible needs as it begins its work. This may include planning for normal department operations, coordinating initial searches for people who may be interested in staffing the commission, and gathering different options the commission may have in selecting appropriate mapping software.