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June 4, 2019 - Presented to: Budget Conference Committee
May 12, 2019 - In the May Revision, the Governor has proposed two new sales tax exemptions that would go into effect on January 1, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2021: one for menstrual products and another for children’s diapers. These exemptions would apply to the full amount of the state and local sales tax. The Governor’s proposal would require our office to submit reports evaluating these exemptions by January 1, 2021.
May 11, 2019 - The Governor proposes to allow state tax benefits for investments in alternative energy or affordable housing in communities designated as Opportunity Zones under a new federal program. Given the mixed evidence regarding the benefits of similar policies and the existence of better mechanisms to fund affordable housing, we recommend rejecting the Governor’s proposal to create a state Opportunity Zone tax benefit.
April 11, 2019 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Subcommittee 4 on State Administration and General Government
March 6, 2019 - The state adopted an EITC in 2015 and expanded it in 2017 and 2018. The Governor proposes another expansion starting in 2019 that would (1) extend the income eligibility range to $30,000, (2) increase the credit amount for workers with dependents under age six, and (3) increase the credit amount for workers with earnings at the higher end of the current eligibility range. This report evaluates the Governor’s proposal, discusses potential alternative approaches, and examines implementation issues and options for providing credits on a monthly basis.
March 6, 2019 - The 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made significant changes to federal tax laws. Generally, the federal tax changes reduced tax rates and broadened the tax base (what is subject to tax). Because the state’s income tax laws closely refer to large portions of federal law, many of those changes created new differences between federal and state taxes. State law currently does not adopt—or conform to—any of the federal changes made in 2017. This report assesses the arguments for and against conforming to ten of those major changes. (Five of these conformity provisions are included in the Governor's proposal.)
February 14, 2019 - In this post, we review the administration’s reductions to certain allocations of Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue. In our view, the administration’s approach for 2019-20 is reasonable. However, the administration has not yet decided how these adjustments will be determined in 2020-21 and beyond. These future choices could have substantial fiscal effects, and some would be more logically consistent with the administration’s current approach than others.
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.
December 11, 2018 - The California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) administers a sales tax exemption for equipment used for certain manufacturing activities. (Many people refer to this program as an exclusion rather than an exemption.) Under current law, this program will end on January 1, 2021. Public Resources Code 26011.8(g) requires our office to report on the effectiveness of the program—including its economic, fiscal, and environmental effects—by January 1, 2019. This report fulfills that statutory requirement.
December 6, 2018 - With a state as big, as populous, and as complex as California, quickly summarizing how its economy or state budget works is impossible. Instead, Cal Facts is a visual guide—using a variety of different charts—to the state's economy, revenues, and major program trends.
November 26, 2018 - Taxes on sugary drinks have become increasingly common in recent years. In June 2018, the Legislature passed a law (Chapter 61 of 2018 [AB 1838, Committee on Budget]) prohibiting local governments from levying such taxes (and other taxes on groceries) through 2030. The law stated the Legislature’s intent to regulate the imposition and collection of such taxes to the exclusion of local action. As such, the Legislature may face the following decisions: (1) Should the state levy an excise tax on sugary drinks? and (2) If so, how should the tax be designed? This report provides information and perspectives for the Legislature to consider as it weighs these choices.
October 15, 2018 - Presented to: Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee and Senate Governance and Finance Committee
October 8, 2018 - Housing is very expensive in California—in early 2018, the typical California home cost $481,000, roughly double the price of the typical home in the United States. The state offers the Property Tax Postponement (PTP) Program to help certain homeowners afford their property taxes and stay in their homes. This report evaluates the advantages and shortcomings of the PTP and offers policy alternatives for legislative consideration.
June 26, 2018 - Presented to Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review
May 31, 2018 - To be present to: Budget Conference Committee