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The 2020-21 Budget: Higher Education Analysis


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The 2020-21 Budget: Analyzing UC and CSU Cost Pressures

December 18, 2019 - California operates two public university systems: (1) the University of California (UC), consisting of 10 campuses, and (2) the California State University (CSU), consisting of 23 campuses. The Legislature faces many pressures to increase funding for UC and CSU in 2020‑21. This report examines these university cost pressures, assesses the state’s capacity to fund some of them, and identifies options for expanding budget capacity to fund additional cost pressures.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 21, 2019 - In this report, we analyze the Governor's higher education budget proposals.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 15, 2018 -

In this report, we analyze the Governor’s higher education budget proposals. We begin by providing an overview of higher education in California. In the next four sections, we analyze the Governor’s budget proposals for the three public higher education segments and the California Student Aid Commission. In each of these sections, we provide relevant background, describe and assess the proposals, and make associated recommendations. The final section of the report consists of a summary of our recommendations.

In addition to this report, we have three other higher education budget briefs that analyze the Governor’s proposals for adult education, Hastings College of the Law, and the California Education Learning Lab.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Student Food and Housing Insecurity at the University of California

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.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Overview of the California Spending Plan (Final Version)

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.

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California Public Higher Education: Funding Supplemental Services for Low-Income and First-Generation Students

December 20, 2017 - The Supplemental Report of the 2017-18 Budget Act required our office to examine how much existing funding and support is provided to these students and identify options for increasing that funding and support. This report fulfills this requirement.

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An Evaluation of CSU's Cross-Campus Online Education Program

January 3, 2018 - CSU is required by statute to (1) adopt a systemwide definition of online education, (2) report biennially on certain enrollment and performance data related to online education, and (3) report on the feasibility of developing an online bachelor’s degree completion program for students who started college but never obtained a degree. Chapter 82 of 2016 (AB 2908, Committee on Higher Education) requires our office to assess CSU’s implementation of these requirements and report to the Legislature by January 1, 2018. This report fulfills that statutory requirement.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Hastings College of the Law

February 15, 2018 - In this report, we provide an overview of the Governor’s proposed budget for Hastings College of the Law, describe the school’s proposed spending plan, assess that plan, and offer an associated recommendation.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Hastings College of the Law

April 24, 2019 - In this brief, we provide background on the Hastings College of the Law, then describe the Governor’s proposed budget for the law school and the school’s proposed spending plan. Next, we provide our assessment of Hastings’ budget and offer associated recommendations.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

January 13, 2020 - This report presents our office’s initial assessment of the Governor’s budget. We estimate the Governor had a $6 billion surplus to allocate to discretionary purposes in 2020-21. The Governor allocates most of the surplus toward one-time purposes, including maintaining a positive year-end balance in the state’s discretionary reserve. Under the administration’s estimates, total reserves would reach $20.5 billion at the end of 2020-21—this represents a $1.7 billion increase from the 2019-20 enacted level. California continues to enjoy a healthy fiscal situation. Despite its positive near-term picture, the budget’s multiyear outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. In addition to describing the condition of the budget under the Governor’s proposal, this report discusses tools the Legislature can use to mitigate against these heightened risks.

January 20, 2020: Upon further review, one item included in the original version of Appendix Figure 3 on discretionary on health spending should not have been included (specfically, use of the Medi-Cal drug rebate fund to offset General Fund costs). Removing this item—which reduces General Fund spending—from the list of discretionary choices made in the Governor’s budget increases our calculation of the surplus to $6 billion. The document is updated to reflect these changes.

Update 1/24/20: Adjusted Judicial Branch items in Appendix Figure 1 to reflect ongoing spending.

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The 2020-21 Budget: Criminal Justice Proposals

February 18, 2020 - The Governor’s 2020‑21 budget includes a total of $19.7 billion from all fund sources for the operation of judicial and criminal justice programs. This is a net increase of $341 million (2 percent) over the revised 2019‑20 level of spending. General Fund spending is proposed to be $16.2 billion in 2020‑21, which represents an increase of $213 million (1 percent) above the revised 2019‑20 level. In this report, we assess many of the Governor’s budget proposals in the judicial and criminal justice area and recommend various changes. Below, we summarize some of our major recommendations. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of the report.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

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.

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[PDF] A Required Report on Student Fee Transparency and Accountability

April 6, 2016 -

Chapter 620 of 2012 (AB 970, Fong) requires the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) to fulfill the following three requirements related to systemwide tuition and fee increases:

  • Tuition and Fee Policies. The legislation requires UC and CSU to develop a list of factors to consider when recommending an increase in mandatory systemwide tuition and fees for resident students.
  • Notification and Consultation Procedures. The legislation requires UC and CSU to follow prescribed public notice and student consultation procedures before adopting an increase.
  • Reporting Provisions. The legislation requires UC and CSU to provide the Legislature with annual reports on tuition and fees, financial aid, and the total cost of attendance. In addition, the legislation requires our office to report on UC’s and CSU’s compliance with Chapter 620.

As detailed below, our review found UC was not in compliance with several provisions of Chapter 620. Though the legislation deems its provisions to be required for UC, UC believes it is not legally obligated to comply because of its constitutional autonomy. We found CSU complied with all Chapter 620 provisions except for one reporting requirement.

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[PDF] Implementation of the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act

March 25, 2015 - Chapter 620, Statutes of 2012 (AB 970, Fong), also known as the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act, requires the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) to fulfill three types of requirements related to systemwide tuition and fee increases. As detailed in this report, our review found UC was not in compliance with most provisions of Chapter 620. Though the legislation deems its provisions required for UC, UC believes it is not legally obligated to comply because of its constitutional autonomy. We found CSU complied with all Chapter 620 provisions.

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The 2018-19 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

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.

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The 2019-20 Budget: Proposition 98 Outlook

November 14, 2018 - In this report, we examine how the minimum guarantee might change over the next several years and discuss the factors likely to be driving those changes. We then examine key aspects of district budgets—focusing on the main cost pressures facing districts over the next several years.

In addition to this report, you can find the main California's Fiscal Outlook report along with a collection of other fiscal outlook material on our fiscal outlook budget page.