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.
February 13, 2019 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation and Assembly Committee on Natural Resources
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.
March 6, 2019 - Presented to: Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization and Senate Committee on Governmental Organization
November 15, 2018 - In this post, we provide a summary of how CalFire is spending Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund dollars provided in the 2017-18 budget package. We focus primarily on CalFire’s Forest Health Program, and identify issues for the Legislature to consider as it oversees and guides future expenditures of forest health funding.
February 14, 2018 - In this report, we assess many of the Governor’s budget proposals in the resources and environmental protection areas and recommend various changes. Below, we summarize our major findings and recommendations. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.
October 17, 2019 - The 2019-20 budget includes over $12 billion for the state’s natural resources and environmental protection programs. This post describes budgetary actions related to the annual cap-and-trade expenditure plan, support for a new safe and affordable drinking water program, funding for a variety of wildfire prevention and response activities, as well as other significant changes.
June 21, 2019 - Recent catastrophic wildfires caused by utilities in California have caused tens of billions of dollars in property damage. Under current legal standards, these damages will directly lead to increased costs for utilities, which could be passed on to ratepayers. Moreover, the recognition of increased potential costs associated with wildfire risks has affected the credit markets, contributing to one investor owned utility (Pacific Gas and Electric) declaring bankruptcy, as well as credit downgrades for other utilities. These credit effects will make it more difficult and expensive for utilities to secure financing for capital investments, which will also increase costs for ratepayers, as well as potentially affect other policy goals. The goal of this report is to be a resource for policymakers and the public seeking to better understand the complicated issues surrounding utilities and the costs associated with wildfire risks.
January 31, 2019 - Presented to: Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
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 18, 2020 - Presented to: Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Hon. Holly J. Mitchell, Chair
February 27, 2018 - The Governor’s budget proposes a total of $17.2 billion from various fund sources for judicial and criminal justice programs in 2018‑19. This is an increase of $302 million, or 2 percent, above estimated expenditures for the current year. The budget includes General Fund support for judicial and criminal justice programs of $13.9 billion in 2018‑19, which is an increase of $270 million, or 2 percent, over the current‑year level. In this report, we assess many of the Governor’s budget proposals in the judicial and criminal justice area and recommend various changes. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of the report.
February 13, 2020 - This report assesses the Governor’s major 2020-21 budget proposals related to climate change. The four proposals we evaluate are the Governor's (1) cap-and-trade expenditure plan ($965 million), (2) expanded climate adaptation research and technical assistance activities ($25 million), (3) new Climate Catalyst loan fund ($250 million), and (4) climate bond ($4.75 billion).
February 21, 2014 - In this report, we analyze the Governor's 2014-15 budget for the state's resources and environmental protection programs. We review and make recommendations on a number of major policy proposals, including a review of the administration's recently released Water Action Plan as well as the proposal to reduce or eliminate several programs currently funded by the Beverage Container Recycling Fund (commonly referred to as the "bottle bill"). We find that these policy proposals are generally reasonable approaches, though we identify trade-offs in the proposals and offer recommendations for legislative consideration. The report also identifies several issues included in the Governor's budget that merit additional legislative oversight. This includes the proposal to provide the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with a total of $43 million from the General Fund to address deferred maintenance backlogs. While we find that it makes fiscal sense to address deferred maintenance, there is uncertainty about what factors have contributed to the large backlogs, as well as how the state can best address maintenance needs on an ongoing basis.
February 10, 2020 - This report reviews the Governor's 2020-21 budget proposals for the state's transportation departments and programs.