May 18, 2022 - This handout analyzes the overall structure of the Governor's May Revision plan for school funding, including an assessment of the major augmentations and the underlying estimates of the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee.
February 6, 2017 - In 2013-14, the state created the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for county offices of education (COEs). With this funding, COEs are required to (1) provide alternative education to certain at-risk students and (2) oversee school districts’ budgets and academic plans. COEs may use any funding available after completing these tasks on optional activities that reflect their own priorities. We have concerns that providing funding directly to COEs for alternative education and optional activities detaches school districts from the decision making process of how to best serve their students. To address these concerns, we recommend the Legislature shift that funding to districts and allow them to contract with COEs (or other providers) for services. Because oversight of school districts’ budgets and academic plans likely is both more effective and efficient when performed at the regional rather than state level, we recommend the Legislature fund COEs directly for these activities. Because our recommendations signify major changes in the way the state funds COEs, we recommend the Legislature phase in the new funding model over several years.
(2/17/17 -- Corrected district services funding for district in county on figure 5.)
August 17, 2011 - Presented to Select Committee on State School Financial Takeovers
March 19, 2020 - In this post, we provide background on fiscal oversight of school districts in California, describe the Governor’s proposals to augment oversight and reporting requirements related to school district budgets, assess those proposals, and provide associated recommendations.
October 19, 2015 - Each year, the Legislative Analyst's Office publishes its Spending Plan publication to summarize the state's annual budget. Passed in June 2015, with various amendments later during the year's legislative session, the state's 2015-16 spending plan includes a large increase in funding for schools and community colleges. The budget makes augmentations to child care and preschool, higher education, and various health and human services programs. The plan also creates a new state earned income tax credit to increase the after-tax income of low-income workers.
April 30, 2012 - This report provides an overview and assessment of the state's comprehensive system for monitoring the fiscal condition of school districts. Under this system, County Offices of Education review the fiscal condition of school districts at several points during the year and provide additional support for districts showing signs of fiscal distress. In the most serious case—when a district no longer appears able to meet its financial obligations—the state provides the district with an emergency loan and assumes administrative control. Our review indicates that the oversight system has been effective in preserving school district fiscal health and preventing districts from requiring an emergency loan. Most notably, during the more than 20 years the new system has been in effect, 8 districts have received emergency state loans whereas 26 districts required such loans in the 12 years prior to the new system. Additionally, the number of districts experiencing fiscal distress has increased in tight budget times, but without a corresponding increase in the number of emergency loans required. This suggests the system’s structure of support and intervention is serving a critical early warning function—allowing districts to get the help they need while fiscal problems tend to be smaller and more manageable. Given its effectiveness, we recommend preserving the existing system, as it has shown to be a vital tool for fostering the ongoing fiscal well-being of districts.
July 29, 2013 - The LCFF, enacted as part of the 2013-14 budget package, establishes a new uniform funding formula and a new system of academic accountability. The formula replaces revenue limits and most categorical programs with uniform base rates for all pupils and provides significantly more funding for English learner and low-income students. The new system of academic accountability requires school districts and charter schools to publicly report how they will use the funds provided under the formula, as well as establishes a new system of support and intervention support for underperforming school districts and charter schools. While the transition to the LCFF begins in 2013-14, it will take several years before all provisions are fully implemented and districts and charter schools are fully funded to formula targets. Moreover, a number of key decisions have yet to be made regarding the implementation of the new fiscal and academic accountability provisions.
October 29, 2020 - This post summarizes overall Proposition 98 funding and K-12 education spending in the 2020-21 budget package. It is part of our Spending Plan series, which contains posts focused on each major sector of the state budget.
November 4, 2013 - The LAO’s annual California Spending Plan publication details the 2013-14 budget package, including legislative and gubernatorial actions through October 2013. (Our office released a preliminary electronic version of the report on July 30, 2013 that summarized legislative and gubernatorial actions through that date.) Major features of the 2013-14 budget plan include $2.1 billion for a new formula to distribute funding amongst schools, a state-based plan to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than one million additional low-income adults, and selected program augmentations.
May 16, 2016 - In this brief, we analyze the Governor’s Proposition 98 May Revision budget package. In the first section, we focus on changes in the overall Proposition 98 funding level under the May Revision compared to the Governor’s January budget. In the next three sections, we describe and assess the major changes in specific Proposition 98 proposals for K-12 education, early education, and the California Community Colleges (CCC), respectively.
April 5, 2020 - As the public health crisis related to COVID-19 has unfolded, the possibility of the state facing a budget problem seems increasingly likely. One key tool to address a budget problem is budget reserves. This post assesses the current reserve situation of the state and school districts—whose funding largely depends on the state.
May 14, 2018 - In this report, we analyze the 2018-19 May Revision education proposals. We first provide an overview of Proposition 98 funding and then focus on the Governor’s major proposals for K‑12 education, child care and preschool, community colleges, universities, and student financial aid. In the pages that follow, we offer many specific recommendations for the Legislature to consider. Our package of recommendations includes adopting some proposals, modifying others in certain ways, rejecting others but inviting better proposals next year, and rejecting some proposals in their entirety.
November 18, 2020 - This report provides our fiscal outlook for schools and community colleges. State budgeting for schools and the California Community Colleges is governed largely by Proposition 98. The measure establishes a minimum funding requirement for K‑14 education commonly known as the minimum guarantee. This report provides our estimate of the minimum guarantee for the upcoming budget cycle. (The 2021‑22 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook contains an abbreviated version of our Proposition 98 outlook, along with the outlook for other major programs in the state budget.)
February 25, 2014 - In 2013-14, the Legislature undertook a major restructuring of school finance but retained the state’s Home-to-School Transportation (HTST) program. Recognizing the need for additional reform, the Legislature asked our office to make recommendations for improving the state’s approach to funding school transportation. The state’s existing approach for allocating HTST funding is widely recognized as outdated and irrational. Given the problems with the state’s existing funding approach, we recommend the Legislature replace it with one of three alternatives. In the report, we describe and assess the trade-offs of the following three options: (1) fund transportation services within the new Local Control Funding Formula; (2) create a new, targeted program to help districts that face extraordinarily high transportation costs; and (3) create a broad-based program whereby the state pays a share of each district’s transportation costs. Any of the three options would be a notable improvement over the state’s current approach.
May 17, 2013 - In the May Revision, the administration forecasts that weaker tax collections in the coming months will erode the vast majority of the $4.5 billion of unexpected tax revenues collected since January. We do not agree with the administration's view of the state's revenue situation. As a result, our forecast now is $3.2 billion higher than the administration's May Revision total for 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 combined. While the state's fiscal condition has improved, there are many good reasons for the Legislature to adopt a cautious budgetary posture. After years of "boom and bust" budgeting, California's leaders now have the opportunity to build a budget for future years that gives the state more choices about how to build reserves in times of healthy revenue growth, prioritize future state spending, and pay off past debts. Given the improved fiscal forecast, we believe this is an ideal time for the Legislature to begin addressing its huge budgetary and retirement liabilities. In addition, given various risks to the economic outlook and the state's budgetary volatility, building larger state budget reserves in the coming years is an important priority, as doing so means there will be less necessity during future downturns to cut public spending, as occurred in recent years.
February 14, 2014 - This report analyzes the Governor's 2014-15 Proposition 98 budget proposals. The Governor’s 2014-15 budget includes $11.8 billion in Proposition 98 spending increases (attributable to 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15). Of that amount, the Governor dedicates $6.7 billion to paying off outstanding one-time obligations and $5.1 billion for ongoing programmatic increases. We believe the Governor's plan is a reasonable mix of one-time and ongoing spending--eliminating the largest outstanding one-time obligation and significantly increasing ongoing programmatic support for schools and community colleges. The Governor's Proposition 98 wall of debt plan also includes a reasonable multiyear approach to paying off all outstanding school and community college obligations one year before the expiration of Proposition 30 revenues. Our report also analyzes the Governor's specific proposals for career technical education, student assessments, and independent study programs. Though we think these proposals generally have merit, we offer various recommendations for refining them.
April 20, 2017 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education