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The 2017-18 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget


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The 2016-17 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

November 18, 2015 - California's state budget is better prepared for an economic downturn than it has been at any point in decades. Under the main economic scenario in this year's LAO Fiscal Outlook, 2016-17 would end with reserves of $11.5 billion, assuming the state makes no new budget commitments through next year. If the economy continues to grow through 2019-20, annual operating surpluses and larger reserves could materialize, and there may be capacity for some new budget commitments—whether spending increases or tax reductions. An economic or stock market downturn, however, could occur during our outlook period. To illustrate this economic uncertainty, we provide projections under alternative scenarios such as a hypothetical recession that causes budget deficits to re-emerge. The more new budget commitments are made in 2016-17, the more likely it is that the state would face difficult choices—such as spending cuts and tax increases—later.

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The 2017-18 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

November 16, 2016 - Under our current projections, assuming no changes in existing state and federal policies, we estimate the state will end the 2017-18 fiscal year with $11.5 billion in total reserves. This includes $8.7 billion in required reserves, which must be deposited into the rainy day fund, and $2.8 billion in discretionary reserves, which the Legislature can appropriate for any purpose. These reserve levels reflect the continued progress California has made in improving its budget situation. Our estimates include the effects of statewide ballot measures that were approved on November 8. The condition of the state budget depends on many volatile and unpredictable factors. This uncertainty is present in the near term and becomes greater in each subsequent year. We discuss two illustrative economic scenarios for the fiscal years after 2017-18. Under a mild recession scenario, the state would have enough reserves to cover its operating deficits through 2020-21. This means, under our assumptions, the state could weather a mild recession without cutting spending or raising taxes. However, this conclusion assumes that the state does not make any changes to its current policies and programs in any year during the outlook. This outlook also assumes no changes in federal policy, even though the recent election results suggest some such changes are now likely. State or federal policy changes could have a significant impact on the state's bottom line.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The Governor's May Revision In-Home Supportive Services Cost-Sharing Proposal

May 16, 2017 - Rather than return to the original 1991 realignment cost-sharing ratios for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) as initiated by the Governor in January (described in our report: The Coordinated Care Initiative: A Critical Juncture), the administration proposes establishing a new Maintenance of Effort (MOE) for counties’ share of IHSS cost. The new MOE would include both services and administration using 2017-18 costs. The new MOE would significantly increase costs to counties in 2017-18 relative to 2016-17. While the MOE shifts significant costs to counties, the proposal provides state General Fund support and additional realignment revenue to partially offset this increase. In this analysis, we lay out the various components of this complex proposal. We also raise key questions for Legislative consideration and provide our recommendation for how to move forward.

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The 2017-18 Budget: The Coordinated Care Initiative: A Critical Juncture

February 27, 2017 - In this report we provide (1) background on the health care and Long‑Term Services and Supports (LTSS) issues that the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI) was intended to address, (2) an update on the CCI’s results and challenges to date, (3) an assessment of the Governor’s elimination of the CCI and budget proposal to extend certain CCI components, and (4) options for the Legislature on how to move forward. As ending the In‑Home Supportive Services (IHSS) has major, and rather complex, implications for 1991 realignment, we include a technical appendix at the end of this report that provides an in‑depth analysis of these implications.

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[PDF] The 2014-15 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

November 20, 2013 - The 19th annual edition of the LAO's Fiscal Outlook--a forecast of California's state General Fund revenues and expenditures over the next six years--reflects continued improvement in the state's finances. A restrained budget for 2013-14, combined with our updated forecast of increased state revenues, has produced a promising budget situation for 2014-15. Our forecast indicates that, absent any changes to current laws and policies, the state would end 2014-15 with a multibillion-dollar reserve. Continued caution is needed, however, given that these surpluses are dependent on a number of assumptions that may not come to pass. For example, as we discuss in this report, an economic downturn within the next few years could quickly result in a return to operating deficits. In this report, we outline a strategic approach for allocating potential surpluses that prepares for the next economic downturn while paying for past commitments, maintaining existing programs, and making new budgetary commitments incrementally to address other public priorities.

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The 2015-16 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

November 19, 2014 - The 20th annual edition of the LAO's Fiscal Outlook—a look at possible state revenue and spending trends over the next five years—reflects anticipated progress in building budget reserves under the recently approved Proposition 2. Specifically, absent new budget commitments, we estimate the state would end 2015-16 with $4.2 billion in total reserves, $2 billion of which would result from Proposition 2's new reserve rules. A $4 billion reserve would mark significant progress for the state, but maintaining such a reserve in 2015-16 would mean little or no new spending commitments outside of Proposition 98, the funding formula for schools and community colleges. Our higher General Fund revenue estimates translate to $6.4 billion available in 2015-16 for the state's Proposition 98 priorities. The report also discusses choices facing the state in implementing Proposition 2, such as choices about which budgetary and retirement debts to repay with dedicated Proposition 2 funds over the next 15 years.

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[PDF] The 2017-18 Budget: California Spending Plan

October 18, 2017 - Each year, our office publishes the California Spending Plan to summarize the annual state budget. This publication discusses the 2017‑18 Budget Act and other major budget actions approved in 2017. In general, it reflects budgetary actions that the Legislature has taken through September 2017. In some cases, as noted, we discuss budget actions approved by the Legislature after June 15, 2017. In late July, for example, the Legislature passed and the Governor approved, an extension of authority for the Air Resources Board to implement the state’s cap‑and‑trade program from 2020 to 2030.

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[PDF] The 2013-14 Budget: California Spending Plan

November 4, 2013 - The LAO’s annual California Spending Plan publication details the 2013-14 budget package, including legislative and gubernatorial actions through October 2013. (Our office released a preliminary electronic version of the report on July 30, 2013 that summarized legislative and gubernatorial actions through that date.) Major features of the 2013-14 budget plan include $2.1 billion for a new formula to distribute funding amongst schools, a state-based plan to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than one million additional low-income adults, and selected program augmentations.

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The 2017-18 Budget: Initial Comments on the Governor’s May Revision

May 13, 2017 - On May 11, 2017 the Governor presented his 2017-18 May Revision budget proposal to the Legislature. We are releasing our assessment of the May Revision in various online products. This post describes the major features of the Governor’s May Revision and our office’s initial comments on it. Other posts in this series discuss our office’s independent assessments of the state’s economy, revenues, and spending proposals in the May Revision.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Assessing the Governor's 1991 Realignment Proposals

March 8, 2019 - This report evaluates the changes the Governor proposes and assesses whether the changes better position 1991 realignment to achieve its intended benefits and meet the principles of a successful state-county fiscal partnership we identified in our October report.

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The 2015-16 Budget: Analysis of the Human Services Budget

February 12, 2015 - This report analyzes the Governor's 2015-16 human services budget proposals. First, we review major trends in human services programs since 2007-08 (the last state budget developed before the major recession) and find that total spending is up by 11 percent (in inflation-adjusted terms), with major changes in how programs are funded. Our report also analyzes the budgetary impacts and issues for the Legislature to consider given the uncertain legal status of new federal labor regulations affecting In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and the Department of Developmental Services. The report includes an analysis of the future of the state's developmental centers (DCs) and an analysis of the Governor's budget proposal to further reform the Community Care Licensing (CCL) program that oversees the licensing of child care, children's residential, and adult and senior care facilities. Finally, the report analyzes the Governor's budget proposal to implement 2 of 19 recommendations of a working group established by the Legislature to recommend reforms to the foster care system.

Proposed SSI/SSP figures corrected 3/11/15

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[PDF] The 2020-21 Budget: Department of Social Services

February 24, 2020 - This brief provides information, analysis, and key issues to consider in evaluating the Governor’s 2020-21 budget proposals for the major programs in Department of Social Services.