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Income Mobility in California Across Generations


California's Changing Income Distribution

August 10, 2000 - In recent decades the distribution of adjusted gross income reported on California tax returns has shifted significantly, with the share attributable to the top 20 percent of returns rising and that for the bottom 80 percent falling. We examine the changes in California's income distribution and their causes.


Welfare Reform in California: A Welfare-to-Work Approach

January 23, 1997 - In order to assist the Legislature in its efforts to formulate a welfare reform plan, we offer a welfare-to-work approach (or "model") for consideration. Our approach is based largely on the principles, or expectations, that (1) the welfare system should assist and encourage recipients to achieve self-sufficiency and (2) recipients should, as a condition of receiving aid, participate in activities designed to move them toward self-sufficiency.


[PDF] Education of Foster Youth in California

May 28, 2009 - Seventy-five percent of California foster youth perform below grade level standards, and by third grade 83 percent of foster youth have had to repeat a grade. We believe the state and local programs must reprioritize the way existing funds are spent in order to improve educational opportunities for foster youth. We recommend changing guidelines to provide certain services to all current and recent foster youth, expanding programs to include academic counseling and completion of education passports, and consolidating programs at County Offices of Educations. We also suggest convening a workgroup to address the transportation needs of K-12 and postsecondary foster youth.


California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences

March 17, 2015 -

Living in decent, affordable, and reasonably located housing is vitally important to every Californian. Unfortunately, housing in California is extremely expensive and, as a result, many households are forced to make serious trade-offs in order to live here. While many factors have a role in driving California's high housing costs, the most important is the significant shortage of housing in the state's highly coveted coastal communities. We advise the Legislature to address this housing shortfall by changing policies to facilitate significantly more private home and apartment building in California's coastal urban communities.

See our February 9, 2016 follow up to this report: Perspectives on Helping Low-Income Californians Afford Housing.


[PDF] Considering Options to Expand Paid Family Leave in California

March 7, 2019 - California's current paid family leave program, implemented in 2004, provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement to workers who take time off to bond with a new child or care for an ill family member. In the 2019-20 Governor's Budget, the Governor included a conceptual proposal to expand paid family leave and make the program more flexible. In this handout, we describe the major features of the state's current paid family leave program and compare it to programs in other states and countries. We then outline potential options to expand paid family leave. Finally, we provide a preliminary assessment of the potential effects of such expansions.


[PDF] Options for a State Earned Income Tax Credit

December 18, 2014 - In June 2014, the Legislature directed the LAO to prepare a report analyzing the costs, benefits, and trade-offs of various options for a state earned income tax credit (EITC) that would supplement the federal credit. This report discusses considerations for adopting a state EITC and provides three options for the Legislature's consideration.


[PDF] The 2016-17 Budget: Analysis of Child Care and Preschool Proposals

February 24, 2016 - In this report, we analyze the Governor’s child care and preschool proposals. The report includes (1) a high-level overview of the proposed child care and preschool budget, and (2) an assessment of the Governor's proposals to restructure California's child care and preschool programs. At the end of the report, we provide a summary of our recommendations.


[PDF] State Fiscal Picture 2001-02

February 21, 2001 - Our "bottom line" budget estimates are similar to the administration's. Due to uncertainty related to the state's electricity crisis and to the very unsettled national and state economic environment the Legislature should withhold consideration of the Governor's $2.3 billion of one-time proposals outside of the energy area until May.


[PDF] Overview of the Child Care and Development Budget

April 13, 2010 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 On Education Finance


[PDF] The 2023-24 Budget: Transitional Kindergarten and State Preschool Proposals

February 14, 2023 - This brief provides an overview and analysis of the Governor’s proposals for transitional kindergarten and State Preschool.


The 2010-11 Budget: Health and Social Services Budget Primer

March 26, 2010 - In 2009-10, expenditures for health and social services programs in California are estimated to be about $25 billion or 29 percent of statewide General Fund spending. Spending on health and social services programs accounts for 36 percent of total spending when special funds, federal funds, and the General Fund are included. This primer provides an understanding of the overall health and social services expenditures, the workings of major health and social services programs, spending trends in major programs, and the major funding sources for health and social services programs.

This primer and the companion piece The 2010-11 Budget: Health and Social Services—A Restricted Environment provide a framework for policymakers as they make very difficult budget decisions in health and social services.


The 2012-13 Budget: The Governor's CalWORKs and Child Care Proposals

February 22, 2012 - The Governor proposes to reduce funding for the CalWORKs program and state-subsidized child care programs. Under his budget plan, these programs would be reduced a total of $1.4 billion or about 20 percent in 2012-13 compared to what current law otherwise would require. These savings would be achieved by imposing stricter limits on which families are eligible to receive which types of services, as well as lowering state payments for CalWORKs recipients and child care providers. Additionally, the Governor’s proposal would make major changes to the way the state administers both welfare-to-work and child care services. In this report, we describe and analyze the Governor’s proposals related to the CalWORKs program and then turn to a similar discussion of the proposed changes to child care programs. We conclude by providing the Legislature with illustrative packages of ways to achieve savings in these two areas using different approaches than the Governor's.


Welfare-to-Work Participation in the CalWORKs Program

February 20, 2002 - Only 26 percent of single-parent cases in federal fiscal year 2000 were participating in CalWORKs in accordance with state law. We believe that increasing participation is an important long-term focus for the Legislature.


[PDF] Measuring CalWORKs Performance

September 6, 2017 - Currently, performance measurement in the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is relatively limited and largely focuses on processes involved with the program's operation—particular emphasis is given to a federal performance measure known as the "work participation rate" (WPR)—rather than on the program's end results, or outcomes. As part of the 2017-18 budget package, the Legislature adopted a new framework for performance measurement in CalWORKs that will be known as the CalWORKs Outcomes and Accountability Review (Cal-OAR). In this report, we outline the rationales for measuring program performance and outline why, ideally, performance measurement should focus on outcomes. We then raise several issues to be considered as the Cal-OAR system is further developed and implemented in the coming years.