May 17, 2021 - On May 14, 2021, Governor Newsom presented a revised state budget proposal to the Legislature. (This annual proposed revised budget is called the “May Revision.”) In this post, we provide a summary of the Governor’s revised budget, focusing on the overall condition and structure of the state General Fund—the budget’s main operating account. In the coming days, we will analyze the plan in more detail and provide additional comments in hearing testimony and online.
January 13, 2022 - On January 10, 2022, Governor Newsom presented his proposed state budget to the Legislature. In this report, we provide a brief summary of the proposed budget based on our initial review. In the coming weeks, we will analyze the plan in more detail and release several additional budget analyses.
Update (1/21/22): Includes a corrected estimate of Governor’s Budget proposals that are excludable under the State Appropriations Limit (SAL).
November 17, 2021 - Our annual Fiscal Outlook publication gives our office’s independent assessment of the California state budget condition for the upcoming fiscal year and over the longer term. In this report, we anticipate the state will have a $31 billion surplus to allocate in the upcoming fiscal year and operating surpluses ranging from $3 billion to $8 billion over the multiyear period. We also find the state will need to allocate about $14 billion to meet the constitutional requirements of the State Appropriation's Limit (SAL) across 2020-21 and 2021-22.
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.
May 12, 2022 - In response to increasing prices across the economy—particularly fuel prices—the Legislature is contemplating a number of policies for providing fiscal relief to Californians. In this post, we identify key questions for the Legislature to consider when analyzing the merits of the options proposed by the Governor and in designing its own relief package.
March 30, 2022 - This brief estimates the condition of the budget over the multiyear taking state appropriations limit requirements into consideration.
April 21, 2021 - This report: (1) describes how appropriations limits work for the state, school districts, and local governments in California; (2) explains why the limit is a constraint for state government; and (3) concludes with a variety of short- and long-term policy options—both of which we think the Legislature will need to take—in response to the issue.
February 4, 2022 - This post provides our office’s initial analysis on and comments about the Governor’s proposals to address state appropriations limit (SAL) requirements in the 2022-23 Governor’s budget.
March 2, 2017 - Under the State Constitution, state tax revenues in excess of the Prop 4 (1979) state appropriations limit, or Gann Limit, must be split between taxpayer rebates and additional school spending. The Governor now proposes a new calculation methodology that creates $22 billion in additional state spending capacity. We find that the Governor's proposal violates the spirit of Proposition 4 and—in our view—is highly vulnerable to legal challenges. We recommend that the Legislature reject the proposal and offer options for legislative consideration.
April 26, 2022 - Given the persistent strength in state tax collections, it may come as a surprise that California’s General Fund likely faces a budget problem in the coming years. Yet this is the key takeaway from a recent fiscal analysis of 10,000 possible revenue scenarios conducted by our office. In 95 percent of our simulations, the state encountered a budget problem by 2025-26. Notably, the likelihood of a budget problem largely is impervious to the future trajectory of state tax revenues. That is, whether revenues trend upward or downward from here, the state likely faces budget deficits. The central implication of our findings is stark and suggests that in the interest of fiscal resilience, the Legislature should consider rejecting a substantial portion of the Governor’s January spending proposals.
November 17, 2021 - Each year, the state calculates a “minimum guarantee” for school and community college funding based upon a set of formulas established by Proposition 98 (1988). Based upon revenue projections that are significantly above the June 2021 estimates, we estimate the guarantee in 2022‑23 is $11.6 billion (12.4 percent) above the 2021‑22 enacted budget level. After accounting for various adjustments—backing out one‑time expenditures, funding a 5.35 percent cost‑of‑living adjustment, and making required reserve deposits—we estimate that $9.5 billion is available for new commitments. In addition, we estimate that $10.2 billion in one‑time funding is available due to increases in the guarantee in 2020‑21 and 2021‑22. In total, we estimate nearly $20 billion is available to allocate in the upcoming budget cycle. To help the Legislature prepare to allocate this funding, we outline several options that would build upon existing programs, expand services in targeted ways, and address future costs and uncertainties.
May 17, 2019 - This report presents our office’s independent assessment of the condition of the state General Fund budget through 2022-23 assuming the economy continues to grow and all of the Governor’s May Revision spending proposals are adopted.
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.