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.
May 17, 2017 - In this Budget and Policy Post, we provide an overview of several of the key factors driving the changes in estimated and proposed Medi-Cal spending in 2016-17 and 2017-18; our evaluation of the Governor’s updated caseload estimates; and an update on several key proposals from the January budget, some of which have been modified at May Revision. During continuing budget deliberations, we recommend that the Legislature ask for clarity from the Department of Health Care Services on how the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program will be funded in the future under the Governor’s proposal if Health Care Services Plans and Penalties Fund revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of the program. We also recommend that the Legislature, should it approve the Governor’s plan to cancel the planned transition of Newly Qualified Immigrants from Medi-Cal to Covered California, consider trailer bill language that repeals existing state statutory language that calls for the transition. Finally, we recommended a downward technical adjustment of $62 million General Fund to the 2017-18 May Medi-Cal Estimate.
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.
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.
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.
January 11, 2016 - This publication is our office’s initial response to the 2016-17 Governor’s Budget proposal. Estimates of state personal income taxes and required school funding are up significantly. In allocating discretionary resources in the 2016-17 budget, the Governor prioritizes growing state budget reserves. Specifically, he increases total reserves to more than $10 billion and also allocates a sizable portion of discretionary resources to one-time infrastructure spending. We encourage the Legislature, as it crafts this year’s budget in line with its own priorities, to begin with a robust target for reserves for the end of 2016-17 and to concentrate spending on one-time purposes. This would still leave some funds available for targeted ongoing commitments—particularly if the Legislature extends the managed care organization (MCO) tax. Such a measured approach would better position the state for any near-term economic downturn.
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.
May 12, 2018 - On May 11, 2018 the Governor presented his 2018-19 May Revision budget proposal to the Legislature. This post describes the major features of the Governor’s May Revision and our office’s initial comments on it.
May 15, 2017 - In this brief, we analyze the Governor’s May Revision education proposals. First, we review changes in the overall Proposition 98 funding level. Subsequently, we describe and assess the Governor’s major proposals for K‑12 education, child care and preschool, the California Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California, and student financial aid.
5/16/17: Correction to LAO CalWORKs Stage 2 cost estimates.
May 12, 2019 - The Governor’s revised budget package provides updates on the administration’s estimates of revenues (in part based on collections in April, the state’s most important revenue collection month). The Governor’s May Revision also revises some January budgetary proposals and introduces some new proposals. In this post, we provide a summary of the Governor’s revised budget, primarily focusing on the state’s General Fund—the budget’s main operating account.
Correction (5/14/19): Corrected sunset dates on certain Health and Human Services proposals.
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.