March 28, 2019 - Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration and General Government
May 16, 2017 -
As part of his May Revision, the Governor proposes the state borrow $6 billion from the Pooled Money Investment Account (PMIA) to make a one-time payment to reduce state pension liabilities at CalPERS. The Governor proposes that the state and General Fund and special funds repay this loan with interest over a period of about eight years.
As we discuss in this brief, we think the plan would probably save the state money over the long run, although uncertainties remain about the likelihood and magnitude of this benefit. However, the administration is asking the Legislature to approve a large commitment of public resources with insufficient consideration. The administration has provided few of the legal or quantitative analyses that the Legislature should expect when receiving a request of this magnitude and complexity. Moreover, the administration has introduced this proposal as part of the May Revision—with only weeks before the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to approve the budget. We doubt all of the issues we raise in the brief can be reviewed by the June 15 deadline. However, there is no reason that the Legislature must make a decision before June 15. We recommend the Legislature wait to act on this plan until after the administration has submitted more analysis. At that point, the Legislature could decide whether or not to approve the proposal.
March 5, 2019 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration
April 4, 2018 - The 2017-18 budget package authorized a plan to borrow $6 billion from the Pooled Money Investment Account—an account that is essentially the state’s checking account—to make a one-time supplemental payment to the California Public Employees' Retirement System. All funds that make pension payments will repay the loan over the next decade or so. Authorizing legislation gives the administration some discretion over how funds will repay the loan, but the statute includes a variety of repayment requirements. In our view, while the basic elements of the administration’s repayment plan are reasonable, we have serious concerns about some choices the administration made. To address these concerns, in this report, we recommend a modified repayment approach that would: (1) be consistent with the authorizing legislation, (2) allocate repayment costs across funds appropriately and publicly, and (3) provide incentives to create more cost-effective outcomes.
February 5, 2019 - This report considers the overall structure of the Governor’s budget to evaluate how well it prepares the state to address a future budget problem. We begin with background to explain the state budget structure, budget problems, and options for addressing budget problems. We also provide background on the state’s existing reserves and debts and liabilities. We then present some key considerations as the Legislature considers its overall budget structure. Finally, we present and assess each of the Governor’s major budget reserve and debt and liability proposals and offer some alternatives for legislative consideration.
2/5/19: Corrected total of state spending deferrals in Figure 5.
October 17, 2019 - This post describes the debt and liability payments made as part of the 2019-20 budget package.
March 10, 2020 - Over the next decade, the state will be required to allocate an additional $12 billion to $21 billion to accelerate the pay down of state retirement liabilities under the provisions of Proposition 2 (2014). This represents a key and unique opportunity for the state. The Governor offers one strategy to prioritize these funds over the next few years. Notably, the Governor focuses on the state’s share of the unfunded liability for teachers’ pensions. While we agree this focus makes sense, the amounts the Governor proposes dedicating to this purpose are not connected to the specific actuarial needs of the teachers’ pension system. In this report, we present a method the Legislature could use to tie these payments to the system’s actual needs, which would better target the funding.
August 26, 2019 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 5 (Highway Patrol). Bargaining Unit 5 is represented by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP). This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.
November 8, 2011 - The Governor’s 12-point pension and retiree health plan would result in bold changes for California’s public employee retirement programs. His proposals would shift more of the financial risk for pensions—now borne largely by public employers—to employees and retirees and would, in so doing, substantially ameliorate a key area of long-term financial risk for California governments. Despite the proposal’s strengths, it leaves many questions unanswered, such as how his hybrid plan and retirement age proposals would work and how the state should cope with large unfunded liabilities already affecting the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the University of California Retirement Plan, and the health benefit program for state and California State University retirees. The Governor’s proposal to increase many current public employees’ pension contributions also raises significant legal and practical issues.
May 7, 2014 - This report categorizes and provides information about $340 billion in California's key retirement, infrastructure, and budgetary liabilities. In addition, this report provides a framework for the Legislature to consider in prioritizing repayment of these liabilities and makes recommendations on which liabilities to pay down first and how the state could address such costs in the future. In general, we suggest that the Legislature prioritize actions to pay down those liabilities (1) with relatively high interest rates or (2) that result in benefits for groups or entities other than the state government. Due to its massive unfunded liability and relatively high growth rate, we recommend that the Legislature make a full funding plan for the California State Teachers' Retirement System a top priority in addressing the state's key liabilities.
October 12, 2020 - The 2020-21 budget package includes actions related to the state’s two largest pension systems—CalPERS and CalSTRS—that result in immediate savings for the state and school employers, while forgoing significant longer-term savings. To achieve these immediate savings, the 2020-21 budget package: 1) repurposes nearly $5 billion of supplemental payments made as part of the 2019-20 budget package on behalf of the state and school employers, and 2) suspends the CalSTRS board’s authority to increase the state’s contribution rate in 20202-21.
August 11, 2011 - The 2011–12 state spending plan includes total budget expenditures of $120.1 billion from the General Fund and special funds. This consists of $85.9 billion from the General Fund and $34.1 billion from special funds. While General Fund spending has dropped by around 6 percent from 2010–11, this has, in part, been offset by increases in special fund spending as the state shifts some programs—from state to local responsibility under what has been called "realignment"—from General Fund support to special fund support. Federal funds spending continues to decline with the expiration of much of the funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
January 23, 2017 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 8 (Firefighters). State Bargaining Unit 8’s current members are represented by Cal Fire Local 2881. This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.
May 17, 2020 - On May 14, 2020, Governor Newsom presented a revised state budget proposal to the Legislature. In this post, we provide an overview of the overall budget condition under the May Revision estimates and proposals; the major actions the Governor took to close an estimated $54 billion budget gap; and give our initial comments on this budget package.
February 24, 2016 - In this report, we analyze the administration’s proposal for meeting Proposition 2 debt payment requirements in 2016-17 and beyond. We find the administration’s proposal focuses on paying down low-interest debts that benefit schools and potentially benefit special fund fee payers. We suggest an alternative approach that could save taxpayers billions of dollars more over the long run. It would also allow the state to begin addressing more of its retirement liabilities sooner. Our approach focuses on high-interest debts that the state is otherwise not addressing. Specifically, we suggest the Legislature prioritize: (1) the state’s pension system for judges and (2) retiree health benefits for state and California State University employees.
March 26, 2019 - When facing budget problems in the past, the state has “deferred” payments from one fiscal year into the next, providing significant one-time budgetary savings. While the state has already addressed many of its outstanding deferrals, there are still three major categories of deferrals remaining. These are related to: (1) state employee payroll, (2) pension payments, and (3) Medi-Cal payments. The Governor proposes using $1.7 billion to undo the payroll and pension deferrals. We find this would improve the state’s fiscal position and moderately improve the state’s budgetary practices, however, this approach has shortcomings relative to alternatives. This post recommends an alternative approach to the Governor’s proposal.