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May 22, 2018 - This post describes the Proposition 55 calculation for Medi-Cal spending in the Governor’s May Revision.
May 14, 2018 - The 2018-19 May Revision proposes to expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. In this post, we describe and comment on the proposal.
May 12, 2018 - In this report, we discuss our new revenue outlook for the state, released as part of our response to the Governor's 2018-19 May Revision.
May 12, 2018 - In this report, we discuss our new economic outlook for the state, released as part of our response to the Governor's 2018-19 May Revision.
May 8, 2018 - This post explains a grant program that provided funds for education and outreach related to the state earned income tax credit (EITC) and provides comments on how the Legislature might prioritize any future state-funded EITC outreach activities.
April 12, 2018 - The state and local governments collected about $220 billion in tax revenue in 2015‑16—equal to nearly 10 percent of the California economy. The personal income tax is the state's main revenue source, the property tax is the major local tax, and the state and local governments both receive revenue from the sales and use tax. In addition, many smaller taxes raise revenue for state and local government operations. This visual guide explains California's tax system using over 40 data visualizations. The report examines various characteristics of the tax system including what items are taxed, who pays the taxes, and how taxes are used.
April 10, 2018 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration
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.
April 4, 2018 - In 2017, the Legislature passed two laws that made major changes to tax administration and appeals in California. Prior to these laws, the Board of Equalization (BOE) had administrative and appeals responsibilities for many taxes and fees. The laws created two new departments—the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA)—and transferred most of BOE’s duties to these departments.
March 15, 2018 - In this report, we explain how the existing credit works and why so few taxpayers are claiming it. Then we describe and comment on the administration’s California Hiring Credit proposal, which would improve upon the existing credit in some respects. We conclude with some options for making more fundamental changes to the credit.
March 7, 2018 - Reserves are of critical importance to the health of the state's budget. These funds help cushion the impact of a budget problem that emerges during a recession. In this report, our office provides an overview of revenue losses that have occurred in past recessions to consider the magnitude of a budget problem that could emerge in the future. Then, we describe the Governor's reserve proposal for 2018-19 and compare this level to past reserves and other states. Next, to aid the Legislature as it evaluates the Governor’s proposal, we present a framework that the Legislature can use to plan for a recession and determine a target level of reserves. Finally, we conclude with our office’s comments on the Governor’s proposed level of reserves in light of this framework and present some alternatives for legislative consideration.
March 1, 2018 - Proposition 55 (2016) aimed to increase funding for Medi-Cal under a formula administered by the Department of Finance. In 2018-19, the first year of implementation of this calculation, the administration’s interpretations and estimates result in no additional funds to Medi-Cal. Two key choices lead to this result. First, the administration’s decision to subtract $3.5 billion from available revenues to account for its proposed optional reserve deposit significantly reduces the calculation’s starting point, eliminating a surplus that would have directed funds to Medi-Cal. Second, the administration’s workload budget approach is based on a broad definition of currently authorized services, which also has the effect of reducing the amount of potential funds for Medi-Cal under the measure. Different decisions about these two features of the measure could result in more or less funding for Medi-Cal by hundreds of millions—or even billions—of dollars in the future.
February 21, 2018 - The Governor proposes extending the California Competes tax credit for five years. We recommend rejecting the administration’s proposal to extend the California Competes tax credit because of problems that are inherent in and unavoidable for these types of programs. If the Legislature chooses to extend California Competes, we offer several suggestions that may alleviate some of its problems.
December 21, 2017 - Our recent Fiscal Outlook publication considers potential future requirements under Proposition 2 (2014)—including required rainy day fund deposits and payments toward certain state debts. Some have asked whether Proposition 2 debt funding payments can be used to reduce liabilities of teacher and other public employees' pension plans. As we discuss in this post, there may be little ongoing capacity to make additional commitments from Proposition 2 debt funding payments through the mid-2020s.
October 31, 2017 - California Competes awards income tax credits to attract or retain businesses considering a significant new investment in California. In this report, we reviewed California Competes’ experience to date in meeting the Legislature’s goals for the program.