March 8, 2018 - The decennial census enumerates each person in the United States. The results of the census apportion seats in the House of Representatives, guide legislative redistricting, and form the basis for allocating half-a-trillion dollars in federal assistance annually. The Census Bureau is making a number of significant changes to the 2020 Census. The Governor proposes providing $40 million for outreach to encourage Californians to complete the census. Given the major changes to the upcoming census—and the potential impacts to state funding—preparing for a significant outreach campaign can be in the state’s fiscal interest.
March 23, 2017 - The Governor proposes $7 million in incentive grants for local governments to participate in the Census Bureau's Local Update Address Program in preparation for the 2020 Census. This post describes the upcoming U.S. Census and considerations for the Legislature in ensuring an accurate count.
July 15, 1999 - We discuss the controversy surrounding plans to supplement the traditional population headcount in the 2000 federal census with estimates derived from statistical sampling techniques. We also revisit the cost to California resulting from undercounting in the 1990 federal census.
November 10, 2020 - In 2019 the Legislature passed and the Governor signed Chapter 120 (SB 200, Monning) establishing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund, which provides up to $130 million annually for efforts to provide safe drinking water for every California community. The legislation tasked the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) with administering the funding and overseeing efforts to implement both short‑ and long‑term solutions to persistent drinking water problems. One year later, SWRCB has made good progress in establishing spending priorities, beginning to allocate funds and execute projects, and collecting essential data to identify the communities that should be targeted for improvements. However, the state is still in the very early stages of implementation. Given the serious threats to public health, safety, and environmental justice posed by existing drinking water deficiencies, the Legislature will want to continue conducting robust oversight over how efforts to rectify these conditions proceed.
January 19, 2021 - In this brief we assess how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected renters and homeowners. We also provide an updated estimate of the total unpaid rental debt in California that has accumulated due to COVID-19.
Correction 1/19/21: Legend on Figure 3 corrected to match data.
February 20, 2019 - As part of the 2019‑20 Governor’s Budget, the administration proposes changing state oversight of local housing decisions and proposes offering rewards to cities and counties to encourage them to plan for and approve housing. To help the Legislature in its consideration of the Governor’s proposals, this report: (1) explains the existing process through which local communities plan for housing, as well as its limitations and shortfalls; (2) describes the Governor’s proposal; (3) provides recommendations on the parts of the proposal aimed at increasing home building in the short term; and (4) offers a package of changes to improve the state’s existing long‑term planning process for housing.
April 3, 2019 - The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC's) LifeLine program provides free or discounted phone service to about 1.7 million households and has an annual budget of more than $350 million. The Supplemental Report of the 2018-19 Budget Act requires our office to (1) review the caseload and budget estimates for this program and make recommendations about how CPUC could improve the accuracy of its estimates and (2) assess and make recommendations about ways to improve enrollment and re-enrollment in the program. This report fulfills those requirements.
April 25, 2019 - The Governor proposes to provide the University of California (UC) with ongoing funding to address student food and housing insecurity. UC indicates it would use the proposed funds either to augment student financial aid or support specific food and housing initiatives. In this brief, we provide background, then describe the Governor’s proposal. Next, we offer issues to consider and provide associated recommendations.
January 12, 2018 - This publication is our office’s initial response to the Governor’s 2018-19 budget. In the proposed plan, the Governor places a high priority on building reserves, proposing a total reserve balance of nearly $16 billion. We believe the Governor’s continued focus on building more reserves is prudent in light of economic and federal budget uncertainty. In addition to building reserves, the Governor’s proposed budget allocates sizeable funding increases available within the constitutionally required guarantee for schools and community colleges and supports a variety of new infrastructure projects. This report also discusses how new federal tax changes may affect state revenues and reasons why we believe there could be more resources available in May.
November 14, 2018 - The budget is in remarkably good shape. Under our estimates of revenues and spending, the state’s constitutional reserve would reach $14.5 billion by the end of 2019-20. In addition, we project the Legislature will have nearly $15 billion in resources available to allocate in the 2019-20 budget process. The Legislature can use these funds to build more reserves or make new one-time and/or ongoing budget commitments.
The longer-term outlook for the state also is positive. Under our economic growth scenario, the state would have operating surpluses averaging around $4.5 billion per year (but declining over time). Under our recession scenario, the state would have enough reserves to cover a budget problem—provided the Legislature used all of the available resources in 2019-20 to build more reserves.
Along with the Fiscal Outlook, you can find a collection of other fiscal outlook material on our fiscal outlook budget page.
October 17, 2019 - Each year, our office publishes California Spending Plan, which summarizes the annual state budget. In July, we published a preliminary version of the report. This, the final version, provides an overview of the 2019‑20 Budget Act, then highlights major features of the budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. In addition to this publication, we have released a series of issue‑specific, online posts that give more detail on the major actions in the budget package.
Correction (10/29/19): Figure 4 total.
January 14, 2019 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s Budget. The budget’s position continues to be positive. With $20.6 billion in discretionary resources available, the Governor’s budget proposal reflects a budget situation that is even better than the one our office estimated in the November Fiscal Outlook. The Governor’s Budget allocates nearly half of these discretionary resources to repaying state liabilities. Then, the Governor allocates $5.1 billion to one-time programmatic spending, $3 billion to reserves, and $2.7 billion to ongoing spending. Although the Governor’s allocation to discretionary reserves represents a smaller share of resources than recent budgets, the Governor’s decision to use a significant share of resources to pay down state debts is prudent. The Governor’s ongoing spending proposal is roughly in line with our November estimate of the ongoing capacity of the budget under an economic growth scenario. This was just one scenario, however. Recent financial market volatility indicates revenues could be somewhat lower than either we or the administration estimated.
February 11, 2021 - This publication examines the impacts of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and prior-year reductions on trial court operations. The publication also identifies issues for the Legislature to consider when determining the appropriate level of overall funding for trial court operations in 2021-22 and our analysis of three of the Governor’s major budget proposals for trial court operations.
April 21, 2021 - This report: (1) describes how appropriations limits work for the state, school districts, and local governments in California; (2) explains why the limit is a constraint for state government; and (3) concludes with a variety of short- and long-term policy options—both of which we think the Legislature will need to take—in response to the issue.