January 19, 2021 - In this brief we assess how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected renters and homeowners. We also provide an updated estimate of the total unpaid rental debt in California that has accumulated due to COVID-19.
Correction 1/19/21: Legend on Figure 3 corrected to match data.
March 23, 2020 - This post summarizes recent federal relief actions in the unemployment insurance program, discusses how these federal actions interact with current state programs, and highlight options the Legislature may want to pursue in responding to the ongoing crisis.
May 26, 2021 - The Governor’s 2021‑22 May Revision budget proposes $36 million General Fund to pay the first, partial payment on the state’s outstanding federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) loan and proposes to direct $1.1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds to pay down a portion of the outstanding loan. In this post, we (1) provide an overview of the state’s UI system financing, (2) highlight how the pandemic affected the UI system, (3) look ahead to upcoming costs to employers and the state to repay the federal UI loan, and (4) assess the Governor’s proposed $1.1 billion pre-payment.
September 30, 2016 - Due to a variety of factors, the state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund exhausted its reserves in 2009, requiring the state to take on loans to continue the payment of benefits to unemployed workers. In this series of four online posts, we (1) examine the current condition of the UI trust fund and how it may change in the near future, (2) provide context on who pays UI taxes and how much they pay, (3) assess the extent to which the UI trust fund is prepared for the next economic downturn, and (4) look at potential steps the Legislature could take should it wish to increase reserves in the trust fund as a means to address the fiscal impacts of the next economic downturn.
Post 1 updated to reflect estimates in the 2017-18 May Revision.
Post 1 updated to reflect estimates in the 2017-18 Governor's Budget.
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.
December 8, 2020 - In this post, we describe our most recent forecast for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program costs and discuss recent caseload trends. With this post we intend to provide information but do not include any explicit recommendations to the Legislature. This post is part of our 2021-2022 Fiscal Outlook series of publications.
October 20, 2010 -
California's Unemployment Insurance (UI) program became insolvent in 2009, ending that year with a shortfall of $6.2 billion. Absent corrective action, the fund deficit is projected to increase to approximately $20 billion at the end of 2011. This report looks at the history of the UI program, compares California's program to those in other states, examines different scenarios for addressing the insolvency, and makes recommendations to the Legislature for solving this difficult problem.
October 13, 2011 - Since 2008, the cost of providing unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in many states has exceeded available resources. As a result, by 2010 the UI funds in 32 states were insolvent, forcing those states to obtain loans from the federal government to continue payment of UI benefits. In this report, we conduct a comparative analysis of the UI programs in all 50 states and Washington D.C. to provide context for the Legislature in considering potential solutions to California's UI insolvency. Our analysis finds that California’s UI program pays comparatively lower weekly benefits, but pays these weekly benefits for a longer duration and to a relatively larger caseload. As a result, California has comparatively higher total program costs. To the extent the Legislature desires, California’s comparatively high cost structure could be mitigated by changing its UI eligibility and benefits duration policies. However, regardless of UI policies, California’s UI program is likely to have a higher UI cost structure than the average U.S. state as a result of its comparatively worse labor market.
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.
October 5, 2020 - Each year, our office publishes the California Spending Plan to summarize the annual state budget. This publication provides an overview of the 2020‑21 Budget Act, provides a short history of the notable events in the budget process, and then highlights major features of the budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. All figures in this publication reflect the administration’s estimates of actions taken through June 30, 2020, but we have updated the narrative to reflect actions taken later in the legislative session. In addition to this publication, we have released a series of issue‑specific posts providing more detail on various programmatic aspects of the budget.
January 28, 2021 - The Governor’s budget proposes several changes to taxation to support businesses. Two key factors for evaluating these proposals are: (1) which level of government would forgo revenue; and (2) which businesses would receive assistance. Based on these criteria and others, we recommend that the Legislature prioritize expansion of the Main Street credit, explore alternative structures for an elective S Corporation tax, and reject the proposed one-time expansions of the CAEATFA exclusion and California Competes.
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 16, 2021 - This post analyzes the major adjustments to the Medi-Cal budget in 2020-21 and 2021-22, with a focus on the technical adjustments such as the administration’s caseload estimates. We will further analyze the major discretionary Medi-Cal proposals in separate publications and communications to the Legislature.
July 7, 2011 - Beginning in 2008, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds of many states, including California’s, were under stress and soon became insolvent. Many states sought loans from the federal government. As of June 2011, California’s outstanding federal loan totaled over $10 billion. Three federal proposals have recently been introduced to address the insolvency issue. All three would improve the solvency of California’s UI fund and two would likely eliminate California’s UI fund deficit by 2016. Regardless of whether Congress acts, we recommend that the Legislature ensure implementation of a long–term solvency plan by 2014. If federal reforms are enacted, it is likely that no additional action by the Legislature will be necessary. However, if no federal reforms are enacted, it will be critically important for the Legislature to adopt its own long–term solvency plan. We recommend that the Legislature consider an approach which includes both increased employer contributions and decreased benefits for UI claimants.