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.
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.
February 15, 2023 - This brief provides our current assessment of the scale of the coming budget problems under the Governor’s budget proposals. We also provide our guidance to the Legislature about how to address these shortfalls given current economic conditions.
May 15, 2023 - On May 12, 2023, 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 and comments on the Governor’s revised budget, focusing on the overall condition and structure of the state General Fund—the budget’s main operating account.
December 7, 2023 - Each year, our office publishes the Fiscal Outlook in anticipation of the upcoming budget season. The goal of this report is to give the Legislature our independent estimates and analysis of the state’s budget condition as lawmakers begin planning the 2024-25 budget.
May 23, 2021 - This report presents our office’s independent assessment of the condition of the state General Fund budget through 2024-25 assuming the economy continues to grow. While the state faces a historic surplus, a spending level beyond what is proposed by the Governor would require the Legislature to identify proposals to reject. Moreover, our analysis finds that the level of ongoing spending proposed by the Governor is only supportable with a revenue forecast that is more optimistic than the administration’s current estimates.
January 13, 2024 - On January 10, 2024, Governor Newsom presented his proposed state budget to the California Legislature. In this report, we provide a brief summary of the Governor’s budget based on our initial review as of January 12. In the coming weeks, we will analyze the plan in more detail and release many additional issue-specific budget analyses.
October 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.
February 14, 2024 - This report describes the Governor’s proposed budget solutions within climate, resources, and environmental programs, and provides the Legislature with suggestions for how it might modify the spending plan to better reflect its priorities and prepare to address a potentially larger budget problem.
May 20, 2016 - This online post is our office’s multiyear outlook for California’s General Fund through 2019-20 based on current state law and policies, as modified by the Governor’s May Revision proposals. This is part of our response to the Governor’s 2016-17 May Revision. Our outlook estimates the state will end 2016-17 with $8.7 billion in total reserves. Over our outlook period, and assuming continued economic growth, we estimate the state’s budget has the capacity to pay for the Governor’s May Revision proposals over the period. After 2016-17, the state would have a few billion dollars available each year to build reserves or make additional commitments. Despite these budgetary surpluses, compared to other recent similar analyses, our outlook shows much smaller budget surpluses. Surpluses have declined largely as a result of new spending commitments by the state, including the increased state minimum wage. As a result, the state’s budget is now more vulnerable to a future economic downturn than it was last year. For this reason, we suggest the Legislature aim to pass a state budget with a robust level of total reserves this year.
May 17, 2018 - This post presents our office’s outlook for the condition of the state’s General Fund through 2021-22 based on the Governor’s 2018-19 May Revision proposals.
November 16, 2022 - 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 recent signs of weakness in the economy, we estimate the guarantee in 2023‑24 is $2.2 billion (2 percent) below the 2022‑23 enacted budget level. Despite this drop, $7.6 billion would be available to provide increases for school and community college programs. In 2023‑24, the available funding could cover a cost‑of‑living adjustment (COLA) of up to 8.38 percent, which is slightly below our estimate of the statutory rate (8.73 percent). Over the next several years, growth in the guarantee and required reserve withdrawals would be just enough to cover the statutory COLA. Given this relatively precarious balance, we outline a few ways the Legislature could create a larger cushion to protect against revenue declines in the future.