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Key takeaways from recent LAO publications – March 1, 2023

Our office will publish shorter, more focused budget analyses over the next few months. In most cases, rather than sending out an announcement for each publication, we will provide periodic updates with the key takeaways from recent pieces. All of our 2023-24 budget analyses to date can be found here.

The 2023-24 Budget: Governor’s Proposals for the Department of General Services

Withhold Action on Proposed Direct Digital Control Upgrades and Require Report on Prioritization. The Governor proposes $11.8 million annually (General Fund) for three years to upgrade eight direct digital control systems, including four identified as low priority for replacement. The Governor also proposes to revert $92.5 million General Fund for deferred maintenance and direct digital control systems provided in past budgets, some of which were identified as high priority for replacement. We recommend the Legislature withhold action on the proposed funding and the reversion of funding for high-priority systems and require the Department of General Services (DGS) to report on how it prioritized these projects.

Require DGS Develop a Plan for Adjusting Rental Rates to Address Deferred Maintenance Backlog and Reflect Actual Costs. The Governor proposes $20.4 million in one time General Fund to replace fire, life, and safety systems. We recommend the Legislature approve these projects because the systems are at or near the end of their useful life. However, we also recommend requiring DGS to provide a plan on how it will adjust rental rates to incorporate building maintenance and needs, including its deferred maintenance backlog that currently exists.

Consider Funding Electric Vehicle Service Equipment Infrastructure Through Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Package. The Governor proposes $35 million (General Fund) to install electric vehicle service equipment infrastructure at state facilities to help the state transition its fleet to ZEVs. Separately, the previous two budgets committed significant multiyear funding for a ZEV package to promote ZEVs more broadly. Given the budget condition and the fact that overseeing the state fleet is a core state responsibility, the Legislature may want to consider prioritizing funding for electric vehicle service equipment infrastructure at state facilities within the ZEV package over proposals unrelated to core responsibilities.

The 2023-24 Budget: California Volunteers Proposed Program Expansions

Governor Proposes Ongoing General Fund to Expand Two California Volunteers Programs. Proposals include (1) $78.1 million ongoing to continue the Youth Jobs Corps program that was established as a 2.5-year program using federal funds, and (2) $4.7 million annually through 2025-26 and $9.3 million ongoing thereafter to double and extend the Climate Action Corps program that was established as five-year pilot effort.

Recommend Legislature Reject Both Proposals. We find the proposed funding augmentations and ongoing commitments to be premature given that neither program can yet present comprehensive data that it is a more cost-effective approach to achieving its goals than other existing or alternative approaches. In the context of the state’s current budget shortfall, we also do not find a compelling rationale for prioritizing these programs at the expense of existing state commitments.

This article was released by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.