Unaddressed Challenges in the 2013-14 California Revised Budget
By Autumn Carter on May 17, 2013California’s 2013-14 May revised budget (released earlier this week) presents an uncertain and cautious fiscal outlook for California. For instance, discussing the state’s lack of budgeting flexibility following the release, Governor Jerry Brown told reporters, "Anyone who thinks there's spare change around here, they haven’t read the budget." The revised version acknowledges some of the major structural challenges facing the state today and in coming years – rising health costs, unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities. However, for the most part, the budget stops at acknowledging these issues and presents no plans of action for addressing them.
Demystifying Education Finance in California
By Jack Mosbacher on Apr 1, 2013California’s education finance system has evolved in often unpredictable ways over the last half-century. Understanding how the bulk of financial responsibility for the K-12 system has shifted from local governments to the state – and how this shift has been at the root of many of California’s greatest educational challenges – is vital to recognizing how the state can effectively educate the nation’s largest and most diverse student population going forward.
Revenues Miss the Mark: How Inaccurate Projections Skew California’s Budget Process
By Autumn Carter on Jan 22, 2013The budget process relies heavily on the DOF’s series of budget projections for the coming year, shaping the Governor’s budget and framing the larger debate surrounding it. In particular, January’s budget projections are significant because the Governor’s proposed budget serves as the official starting point for budget debates. Therefore, when inaccurate projections shape the budget, the discourse surrounding it becomes farther removed from reality.
California’s Department of Corrections: Shifting Prisoners and Costs to Counties
By Prerna Anand on Oct 2, 2012The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)’s share of the State budget has ballooned from under 3% in 1980 to almost 10% today. While several factors are responsible for the 1327% increase in CDCR’s budget in just three decades, the state inmate population has been a key driver, expanding rapidly since 1980 and spurring a prison overcrowding crisis in California. Pressed by a federal court-mandated 2013 deadline to substantially reduce prison overcrowding, the State has worked to redistribute its overall prison population among state prisons and county jails.
California's High-Speed Rail Realities: Briefly Assessing the Project's Construction Cost, Debt Prospects, and Funding
By Chris Knight on Jul 5, 2012In 2008, the citizens of California voted to authorize the state government to borrow $9.95 billion in order to build California’s first high-speed rail system (CA HSR). In this article, we explain how the State – under the auspices of the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) employing project management firm Parsons Brinckerhoff – has strayed from this original plan, and the consequences this will have for the California state budget.