December 2, 2015 - On November 18th, we released the 21st annual edition of our Fiscal Outlook, which projects California’s state budget condition through 2019-20 under a few different economic scenarios. This note provides the calculations and assumptions underlying the report’s estimates on Proposition 2 (2014), which changed the state’s budgeting practices concerning reserves and debt payments. Specifically, this note provides a high-level overview of our estimates of Proposition 2’s debt and reserve requirements in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
February 19, 2016 - In this publication, we summarize the administration’s estimate for constitutionally required reserve deposits in this year’s budget process. We then analyze the administration’s strategy for building additional reserves. While we concur with the Governor’s overall approach of building a robust level of total reserves, we find that his proposal to deposit optional amounts into the state’s rainy day fund would limit legislative control.
November 16, 2016 - On November 16th our office released its annual Fiscal Outlook. The outlook provides our assessment of California’s budget condition through 2020-21. This post provides more details on the outlook’s estimates of constitutionally required debt payments and reserve deposits under Proposition 2.
March 25, 2015 - Proposition 2—approved by the voters in November 2014—places formulas into the State Constitution that determine the minimum amount of debt payments and budget reserve deposits to be made in a fiscal year. This publication analyzes the administration’s Proposition 2 proposal outlined in the 2015-16 Governor’s Budget. We recommend that the Legislature develop a long-term plan for Proposition 2 and suggest that the Legislature solicit proposals from the administration, state pension systems—including CalPERS, CalSTRS, and the UC Regents—and others concerning the benefits of applying Proposition 2 debt payment funds toward eligible liabilities. In addition, we note that, as of the Governor's January budget proposal, the administration's Proposition 2 plan for 2015-16 pays down more debt than required under the measure.
November 14, 2018 - This post discusses the various types of deposits the Legislature has made into the Budget Stabilization Account (BSA) that now compose its balance. We also present our projections of the estimated balance in the BSA under our recently published report, The 2019-20 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook.
In addition to this report, you can find the main California's Fiscal Outlook report along with a collection of other fiscal outlook material on our fiscal outlook budget page.
May 17, 2016 - In the May Revision, the Governor proposes ending 2016-17 with $8.5 billion in total state General Fund reserves. This total reserve level is down $1.7 billion from January, but still represents an increase of about $4 billion over the level assumed in the 2015-16 budget plan. This online post provides more details about the breakdown of these funds in the Budget Stabilization Account (BSA) and Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties (SFEU).
April 26, 2021 - This post provides an overview of the Governor’s proposals related to Proposition 2 (2014). We provide background on how the measure works, and then summarize and comment on the Governor’s Proposition 2 reserve and debt payment proposals.
April 7, 2015 - This report provides a preview of possible budgetary outcomes that the state’s elected leaders may face while finalizing the 2015–16 budget package in May and June. We do not produce a new revenue or budget outlook in this report. Rather, we consider the key factors that will affect May estimates. In general, this report’s scenarios discuss revenues and spending relative to the administration’s January 2015 budget estimates.
March 7, 2018 - Reserves are of critical importance to the health of the state's budget. These funds help cushion the impact of a budget problem that emerges during a recession. In this report, our office provides an overview of revenue losses that have occurred in past recessions to consider the magnitude of a budget problem that could emerge in the future. Then, we describe the Governor's reserve proposal for 2018-19 and compare this level to past reserves and other states. Next, to aid the Legislature as it evaluates the Governor’s proposal, we present a framework that the Legislature can use to plan for a recession and determine a target level of reserves. Finally, we conclude with our office’s comments on the Governor’s proposed level of reserves in light of this framework and present some alternatives for legislative consideration.
February 23, 2017 - Proposition 2 (2014) requires the state to make: (1) minimum annual payments toward certain eligible debts and (2) deposits into the state’s rainy day fund. This publication outlines alternatives to the Governor’s proposals that could free up General Fund resources. It also addresses whether the Legislature can access funds from state’s rainy day reserve under the measure’s budget emergency provisions.
December 21, 2017 - Our recent Fiscal Outlook publication considers potential future requirements under Proposition 2 (2014)—including required rainy day fund deposits and payments toward certain state debts. Some have asked whether Proposition 2 debt funding payments can be used to reduce liabilities of teacher and other public employees' pension plans. As we discuss in this post, there may be little ongoing capacity to make additional commitments from Proposition 2 debt funding payments through the mid-2020s.
November 18, 2020 - This report provides our fiscal outlook for schools and community colleges. State budgeting for schools and the California Community Colleges is governed largely by Proposition 98. The measure establishes a minimum funding requirement for K‑14 education commonly known as the minimum guarantee. This report provides our estimate of the minimum guarantee for the upcoming budget cycle. (The 2021‑22 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook contains an abbreviated version of our Proposition 98 outlook, along with the outlook for other major programs in the state budget.)
April 5, 2020 - As the public health crisis related to COVID-19 has unfolded, the possibility of the state facing a budget problem seems increasingly likely. One key tool to address a budget problem is budget reserves. This post assesses the current reserve situation of the state and school districts—whose funding largely depends on the state.
October 5, 2016 - Each year, the Legislative Analyst’s Office publishes the California Spending Plan to summarize the annual state budget. This publication discusses the 2016–17 Budget Act and other major budget actions approved during 2016. Unless indicated otherwise, figures and dollar amounts generally refer to budget actions passed as part of the June 2016 budget package, as signed into law on June 27 and July 1, 2016. In some cases, as noted, we discuss later budget actions approved during August 2016 by the Legislature. During August, for example, the Legislature and the Governor agreed to spend certain cap–and–trade funds. The budget totals include $400 million (General Fund) for affordable housing even though the Legislature and Governor have not reached agreement on this spending.
This year's California Spending Plan includes an interactive graphic to help the reader visualize how the state budget spent $167 billion in total state revenues.
January 13, 2020 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s budget. We estimate the Governor had a $6 billion surplus to allocate to discretionary purposes in 2020-21. The Governor allocates most of the surplus toward one-time purposes, including maintaining a positive year-end balance in the state’s discretionary reserve. Under the administration’s estimates, total reserves would reach $20.5 billion at the end of 2020-21—this represents a $1.7 billion increase from the 2019-20 enacted level. California continues to enjoy a healthy fiscal situation. Despite its positive near-term picture, the budget’s multiyear outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. In addition to describing the condition of the budget under the Governor’s proposal, this report discusses tools the Legislature can use to mitigate against these heightened risks.
January 20, 2020: Upon further review, one item included in the original version of Appendix Figure 3 on discretionary on health spending should not have been included (specfically, use of the Medi-Cal drug rebate fund to offset General Fund costs). Removing this item—which reduces General Fund spending—from the list of discretionary choices made in the Governor’s budget increases our calculation of the surplus to $6 billion. The document is updated to reflect these changes.
Update 1/24/20: Adjusted Judicial Branch items in Appendix Figure 1 to reflect ongoing spending.