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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 2/12/2014
Budget Issue: Recommend rejecting proposed budget increase
Program: Citizens Redistricting Commission
Finding or Recommendation: Reject Governor's January budget proposal to augment the commission's General Fund budget by (1) $15,000 to support an interagency agreement with the Department of General Services for financial and human resources services and (2) $5,000 for external legal services. Direct administration to develop plan for commission to absorb costs within 2013-14 funding levels.
Further Detail


Commission Established by Voters. In November 2008, voters approved Proposition 11, creating the Citizens Redistricting Commission to establish new district boundaries for the State Assembly, State Senate, and the State Board of Equalization (BOE) after the 2010 census. The commission consists of 14 registered voters who apply for the position and are chosen according to specified rules. In November 2010, voters approved Proposition 20, which provided that the commission would also establish boundaries for California’s districts in the U.S. House of Representatives. The commission will be reestablished every ten years to draw new district boundaries after each decennial census.

Commission Adopted Final Maps in August 2011. The redistricting process began in August 2009 when—as required by current law—the Bureau of State Audits initiated the commissioner application process. Over the next couple of years, the commission held numerous public meetings soliciting input on draft district boundaries. In August 2011, the commission certified a final set of maps establishing the boundaries for the State Senate, Assembly, BOE, and congressional districts.

Certified Maps Have Faced Legal Challenges. The Constitution gives the commission the sole legal standing to defend the final maps in any legal action. In addition, the California Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction in all proceedings in which a certified map is challenged or is claimed not to have taken timely effect. Since the final maps were adopted in 2011, the commission has defended the certified maps in a number of legal challenges. In one case related to the failed referendum of the State Senate district maps, the court found that the certified Senate district maps “appear to comply with all of the constitutionally mandated criteria set forth in the California Constitution.” The commission currently is being represented by the Attorney General regarding one legal action.

Legislature Has Discretion to Set Funding Levels for Certain Activities. Current law requires the Legislature to fund certain activities of the commission.  During the first three years of the redistricting process (2009-2011 for the most recent cycle), the Legislature must make available to the commission the greater of $3 million or the amount spent in the previous redistricting cycle, adjusted for inflation. In addition, the Legislature “shall provide adequate funding to defend any action regarding a certified map.” Outside of these two requirements, the Legislature has authority to establish the funding level necessary for the commission to fulfill its duties.

Commission Has Limited Obligations After Certifying Maps. The commission’s primary duty—approving new district boundaries—is accomplished during the first three years of the redistricting process. Thus, after it certified the maps during the last redistricting process, the commission’s duties diminished significantly to (1) defending the maps in legal proceedings, (2) appointing new commission members to fill any vacancies, (3) responding to any requests for access to public records under the Public Records Act, and (4) approving any amendments to the implementing legislation for legislative consideration.

2013-14 Budget. In 2013-14, the commission has a budget of $71,000 and is authorized to have 0.5 positions. The position is classified as a Staff Services Manager 1 (SSM1). The administration indicates that funding from prior years—not included in the $71,000—is being used to finance an interagency agreement with the Department of General Services (DGS) to provide the commission with accounting, budgeting, and personnel services. In addition, the administration indicates that a retired state attorney has been providing her services pro bono as a legal advisor to the commission. The budget includes provisional language that authorizes the Director of Finance to augment the commission’s budget—after a 30-day Joint Legislative Budget Committee review—if the commission meets to fulfill any of the four duties discussed above.

Governor’s Proposal

Augmentation for Contracted Services. The administration proposes to increase the commission’s budget by $20,000 to pay for (1) DGS accounting, budgeting, and personnel services ($15,000) and (2) legal services ($5,000). The budget bill includes the same contingency provisional language authorizing the Department of Finance (DOF) to approve one-time augmentations if necessary for the commission to satisfy its constitutional duties.


Reject Proposal. The commission’s 2013-14 budget stems from a decision the Legislature made a year earlier to provide the commission one half-time position to serve as a point of contact for commission matters and litigation.  The commission’s workload has not increased since that time. Thus, we see no reason to increase the commission’s budget. In addition, we find DGS’s proposal to charge $15,000 to administer a budget of $71,000 to be excessive. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature direct the Department of Finance and the commission to develop a plan to allow the commission to operate within its 2013-14 budgetary appropriation. Such a plan could include (1) negotiating lower cost contracted services with DGS, (2) reducing or eliminating proposed contract legal services, (3) reducing the time base of the commission’s authorized position, and/or (4) shifting the commission’s position from an manager classification to a less expensive analyst classification.

LAO analysis prepared by: Nick Schroeder. Reviewed by: Marianne O'Malley.