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.
August 30, 2021 - This post describes the legislative and administrative decisions regarding the State Appropriations Limit (SAL) in the 2021‑22 budget process.
May 16, 2022 - On May 13, 2022, Governor Newsom presented a revised state budget proposal to the Legislature. (This annual proposed revised budget is called the “May Revision.”) In this brief, 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. The information presented in this brief is based on our best understanding of the administration's proposals as of 11:00 AM, May 14, 2022. In many areas of the budget, this understanding will continue to evolve as we receive more information. We only plan to update this brief for very significant changes (that is, those greater than $500 million).
Update (5/20/22): Updated to reflect information about state appropriations limit (SAL) excluded spending and other budget proposals.
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.
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.
November 16, 2022 - 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 $24 billion budget problem to solve in the upcoming fiscal year and operating deficits declining from $17 billion to $8 billion over the multiyear period. The goal of this report is to help the Legislature begin crafting the 2023‑24 budget. Our analysis relies on specific assumptions about the future of the state economy, its revenues, and its expenditures. Consequently, our estimates are not definitive, but rather reflect our best guidance to the Legislature based on our professional assessments as of November 2022.
Update (11/22/22): The original version of this report identified a $25 billion—instead of a $24 billion—budget problem, which reflected an error in the way we accounted for student housing grant program funding.
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 30, 2022 - This brief estimates the condition of the budget over the multiyear taking state appropriations limit requirements into consideration.
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.
August 16, 2023 - This publication provides a preliminary overview of the 2023-24 Budget Act, gives a brief description of how the budget process unfolded, and then highlights major features of the budget.
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.
April 6, 2018 - The State Constitution limits how much the Legislature can spend from tax revenues. The administration’s 2018-19 budget proposal reflects increased “room” under this limit—essentially spending capacity—of roughly $6 billion over June 2017 levels. Notably, the administration revised its approach for estimating costs to comply with federal and court mandates, which are excluded from the limit. We find that the mandates approach is inconsistent with the implementation of the spending limit because the administration reflects costs from any mandate whereas only costs resulting from mandates imposed after 1978-79 should be excluded from the limit. We recommend the Legislature direct the administration to revise its approach going forward to be consistent with the limit, which conceivably could increase or decrease room under the limit. In addition, we make several additional recommendations that would reduce room under the limit by several billion dollars.
January 13, 2023 - On January 10, 2023, 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.
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.