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.
October 15, 2018 - California has shifted programmatic and funding responsibility between the state and counties for various programs over the last 40 years. Historically, these shifts—or realignments—aimed to benefit both the state and counties by providing greater local flexibility over services, allowing counties opportunities to innovate and improve program outcomes, and encouraging cost savings by requiring counties to share in program costs. To achieve these benefits, we believe there are certain principles any realignment needs to follow. This report evaluates the extent to which one of California’s more notable realignments undertaken in 1991 achieves the intended benefits and meets these principles.
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.
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.
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.
February 16, 2018 - In this report we provide a broad overview of the Governor's health and human services budget, highlighting major year-over-year changes. We then provide a more in-depth analysis of select programmatic areas.
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 5, 2020 - Each year, our office publishes the California Spending Plan to summarize the annual state budget. This publication provides an overview of the 2020‑21 Budget Act, provides a short history of the notable events in the budget process, and then highlights major features of the budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. All figures in this publication reflect the administration’s estimates of actions taken through June 30, 2020, but we have updated the narrative to reflect actions taken later in the legislative session. In addition to this publication, we have released a series of issue‑specific posts providing more detail on various programmatic aspects of the budget.
November 15, 2017 - In this fiscal outlook post, we discuss our near- and long-term costs projections for the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program and significant cost drivers and savings.
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
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.
May 18, 2020 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services
February 11, 2016 - We review the Governor's 2016-17 budget proposals for (1) the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) program, (2) In-Home Supportive Services, (3) California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), and (4) Foster Care. Further, we provide the Legislature with key issues to consider when evaluating the Governor's budget proposals.
March 4, 2019 - In this report, we provide an overview of the Governor’s early education proposals, then analyze his three major proposals in this area. Specifically, we analyze his proposals to (1) fund facilities for more full‑day kindergarten programs, (2) make targeted one‑time improvements to the child care and preschool system, and (3) expand the number of full‑day preschool slots. We then assess the administration’s cost estimates for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) child care programs. We end the report with a summary of our early education recommendations.