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The 2020-21 Budget: Transportation


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A Review of the State's Active Transportation Program

March 1, 2019 - The state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP)—administered by the California Transportation Commission (CTC), in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)—provides funding to infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects that facilitate travelers being physically active through biking and walking. Some of the primary goals of the program include increasing the number of walking and biking trips, increasing safety and mobility, and enhancing public health. In approving the 2018-19 budget package, the Legislature directed our office to review certain aspects of the program.

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A Review of Caltrans’ Vehicle Insurance Costs

December 5, 2017 - In this report, we (1) describe various aspects of Caltrans’ vehicle usage, including the types of vehicles the department owns and its policies for employees to drive them; (2) provide an overview of the state’s vehicle liability self‑insurance program in which Caltrans participates; (3) examine the recent increases in Caltrans’ insurance premiums; and (4) identify options to contain the department’s premium costs. In accordance with the reporting language, we focus on Caltrans’ vehicle liability insurance costs in the report, though some of our findings could have implications for vehicle insurance costs for other state departments as well as state liability for other incidents besides vehicle collisions.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Governor's Wildfire-Related Proposals

February 21, 2020 - While wildfires have always been a natural part of California’s ecosystems, recent increases in the severity of wildfires and the adverse impacts on communities have increased the focus on the state’s ability to effectively prevent, mitigate, and respond to wildfire risks. This report has two parts. First, we assess the state’s approach to addressing wildfire risks in light of the complex challenges that make an efficient and effective approach difficult. Second, we evaluate the Governor’s various wildfire‑related budget proposals in the absence of having a statewide strategic wildfire plan.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Transportation Proposals

February 8, 2018 - In this report, we analyze the Governor’s budget proposals for various transportation departments and programs. We begin by providing an overview of the Governor’s proposed budget for each department and program. In the next section, we discuss two cross‑cutting state transportation issues: (1) funding from the tax and fee increases authorized by Chapter 5 of 2017 (SB 1, Beall), and (2) an update on the condition of the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA). In the following three sections, we analyze the Governor’s budget proposals for Caltrans, CHP, and DMV. In each of these sections, we provide relevant background, describe the proposals, assess the proposals, and identify issues and recommendations for legislative consideration. The final section consists of a summary of the recommendations we make throughout the report.

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Improving California's Forest and Watershed Management

April 4, 2018 - This report consists of five sections. First, we review the importance of and benefits provided by California’s forests. Second, we provide information regarding how forests are managed in California, including ownership, state and federal policies and programs, and funding. Third, we review the current conditions of forests and watersheds across the state, including the concerning implications and recent consequences of those conditions, as well as the actions that would be needed to make improvements. Fourth, in the findings section, we highlight shortcomings in how the state manages its forests and watersheds. Fifth, we offer recommendations for actions the Legislature could take to improve forest and watershed management in California.

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The 2021-22 Spending Plan: Transportation

October 1, 2021 - The 2021‑22 budget provides a total of $31.7 billion for transportation-related programs, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), local streets and roads (shared revenues), California Highway Patrol (CHP), Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA).

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California's Transportation System

June 7, 2018 - The state’s transportation system helps to move people and goods around and through the state. The aim of this primer is to provide policymakers and the public with key information about this system. The primer begins with a chapter describing transportation governance. The subsequent five chapters consist of visual charts that provide information about the following:

  • Driving. Provides information on drivers, vehicles, state highways, and local streets and roads.
  • Mass Transportation. Describes modes of transportation that move large numbers of people at once, such as transit and commercial aviation.
  • Active Transportation. Provides information on bicycling and walking trips.
  • Freight Movement. Discusses the movement of goods through air travel, rail, seaports, and highways and roads.
  • Funding. Describes the revenue sources supporting California’s transportation programs and infrastructure.

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Reducing the Destructiveness of Wildfires: Promoting Defensible Space in California

September 30, 2021 - A key strategy for reducing home losses during wildfires is for homeowners to maintain an area free of excess or dead vegetation around their homes, known as defensible space. This report identifies the challenges to improving the number of homeowners in compliance with existing state and local defensible space requirements and provides recommendations to address these challenges in order to reduce the destructiveness of future wildfires.

Executive Summary (PDF)

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The 2019-20 Budget: Office of Emergency Services

March 13, 2019 - In this report, we assess the Governor’s 2019‑20 budget proposals for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES).

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The 2021-22 Budget: Medi-Cal Enterprise System Modernization Effort

February 17, 2021 - This post analyzes, and provides recommendations to the Legislature on, the 2021-22 Governor’s Budget proposal for the Department of Health Care Services to continue the replacement of several Medi-Cal information technology systems and to plan the modernization of the remaining systems under a new effort called the Medi-Cal Enterprise System Modernization.

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What Can We Learn From How the State Responded to the Last Major Drought?

May 13, 2021 - For the second consecutive year, the state is experiencing extremely low rates of precipitation. As we prepare for what could be an extended period of dry conditions, it is helpful to review how the state responded to the last major drought. Such information can inform—and thereby potentially improve—the state’s current and ongoing response to developing conditions. In this report, we summarize the major activities, spending, and policy actions undertaken by the state to respond to the severe drought that occurred from 2012 through 2016. We also describe current conditions, and highlight some key lessons the Legislature can learn from previous efforts to help guide its response to the emerging drought.

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The 2021-22 Budget: Overview of the Spending Plan (Final Version)

October 27, 2021 - Each year, our office publishes the California Spending Plan to summarize the annual state budget. This publication provides an overview of the 2021-22 Budget Act, then highlights major features of the budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Natural Resources and Environmental Protection

February 14, 2019 - In this report, we assess several of the Governor’s budget proposals in the natural resources and environmental protection areas. Based on our review, we recommend various changes, as well as additional legislative oversight. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.

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Assessing California’s Climate Policies—Transportation

December 21, 2018 - Chapter 135 of 2017 (AB 398, E. Garcia) requires our office to annually report on the economic impacts and benefits of California’s statutory greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals—statewide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. This report provides our assessment of the effects, of major policies in the transportation sector intended to help meet these goals, as well as identifies some key issues for the Legislature to consider as it makes future policy and budget decisions. In a companion report, Assessing California’s Climate Policies—An Overview, we describe the general types of economic effects of state climate policies, key challenges in measuring these effects, and broad issues for the Legislature to consider when designing and evaluating its climate policies.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Transportation Proposals

February 26, 2019 - The Governor's budget provides a total of $23.5 billion from various fund sources for all transportation departments and programs in 2019-20. This is a net increase of $1.4 billion, or 6 percent, over estimated current-year expenditures. In this report, we (1) review the Governor's 2019-20 transportation proposals, including those for the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA), the implementation of REAL ID, and the high-speed rail project, and (2) identify issues for legislative consideration.

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The 2020-21 Spending Plan: Transportation

October 5, 2020 - The 2020‑21 budget provides a total of $26.4 billion for transportation-related programs, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), high-speed rail, local streets and roads (shared revenues), California Highway Patrol (CHP), and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).