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A Review of the CalSTRS Funding Plan: Background

February 2, 2016 - This post is the first of a series looking at the implementation of the CalSTRS funding plan. In this post, we provide key background information on pensions and CalSTRS.


Evaluation of the School District of Choice Program

January 27, 2016 - The District of Choice program is one of several statutory options allowing a K-12 student to transfer from one school district to another school district. The program will sunset on July 1, 2017, unless the Legislature decides to reauthorize it. This report, prepared at the request of the Legislature, assesses the program and offers our recommendations regarding reauthorization.

For the follow-up to this evaluation, published in February 2021, please click here.


Cap-and-Trade Revenues: Strategies to Promote Legislative Priorities

January 21, 2016 - In this report, we describe and assess the relationship—from both a legal and policy perspective—between the cap–and–trade regulation and the auction revenues that are generated as a result of the program.


Proposition 39 (2012)

January 20, 2016 - Presented to: Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications.


California’s Teacher Workforce in Context

January 20, 2016 - Presented to: Senate Education Committee


January EdBudget Tables (2016)

January 14, 2016 - At key times during the state’s budget cycle, we post tables containing important information about the education parts of the budget. This January posting reflects the 2016-17 Governor’s Budget proposals. The tables cover Proposition 98, K-12 education, child care and preschool, higher education, and student financial aid.


Post Election Manual Tally Mandate

January 13, 2016 - State law tasks the Commission on State Mandates with determining whether new state laws or regulations affecting local governments create state-reimbursable mandates. Typically, the process for determining whether a law or regulation is a state-reimbursable mandate takes several years. State law further requires our office to analyze any new mandates identified by the commission as a part of our annual analysis of the state budget. In particular, state law directs our office to report on the annual state costs for new mandates and make recommendations to the Legislature as to whether the new mandates should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. In this budget post, we discuss the Post Election Manual Tally mandate, which is the only newly identified state mandate since the 2015-16 Budget Act.


Retirement Security and the Great Recession

January 12, 2016 - As part of the Supplemental Report of the 2015-16 Budget Package, the Legislature directed our office to issue a report evaluating defined contribution retirement benefits provided to public employees and the effect the Great Recession had on these benefits.


The 2016-17 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

January 11, 2016 - This publication is our office’s initial response to the 2016-17 Governor’s Budget proposal. Estimates of state personal income taxes and required school funding are up significantly. In allocating discretionary resources in the 2016-17 budget, the Governor prioritizes growing state budget reserves. Specifically, he increases total reserves to more than $10 billion and also allocates a sizable portion of discretionary resources to one-time infrastructure spending. We encourage the Legislature, as it crafts this year’s budget in line with its own priorities, to begin with a robust target for reserves for the end of 2016-17 and to concentrate spending on one-time purposes. This would still leave some funds available for targeted ongoing commitments—particularly if the Legislature extends the managed care organization (MCO) tax. Such a measured approach would better position the state for any near-term economic downturn.


What Is the Adult Education Block Grant?

January 6, 2016 - What Is the Adult Education Block Grant? This is one of a series of issue briefs examining important questions about education funding in California. For more, see our EdBasics page.


Improving California’s Criminal Fine and Fee System

January 5, 2016 - Based on our review of the existing fine and fee system, we make various recommendations for improvement. First, we recommend that the Legislature reevaluate the overall structure of the fine and fee system to ensure the system is consistent with its goals. Second, we recommend increasing legislative control over the use of criminal fine and fee revenue to ensure that its uses are in line with legislative priorities by (1) requiring that most criminal fine and fee revenue be deposited in the state General Fund, (2) consolidating most fines and fees into a single, statewide charge, (3) evaluating the existing programs supported by fine and fee revenues, and (4) mitigating the impacts of potential changes to the fine and fee system on local governments.


The 2016-17 Budget

January 1, 2016 - An index of publications on the 2016-17 budget.


Crude Oil by Rail—Federal Update

December 17, 2015 -

On December 4th, President Obama signed into law a long-awaited federal transportation funding reauthorization bill—the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—which provided $305 billion over five years for the nation’s transportation systems. The purpose of this report is to inform California lawmakers about additional provisions of the bill designed to address safety concerns around the transportation of crude oil by rail.


Effects of Cigarette Taxes on Smoking Behavior

December 17, 2015 - Presented to: Conference Committee on SBX2 2 and ABX2 1, Second Extraordinary Session


Fiscal Outlook Supplement on Proposition 2: True Up Calculations

December 3, 2015 - On November 18th, we released the 21st annual edition of our Fiscal Outlook, which projects California’s state budget condition through 2019-20 under a few different economic scenarios. This note provides the calculations and assumptions underlying the report’s estimates on Proposition 2 (2014), which changed the state’s budgeting practices concerning reserves and debt payments. Specifically, this note details the calculations we used to estimate the first 2015-16 “true up” deposit into the state’s rainy day fund.