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Report · January 2007

Fiscal Realities: Budget Tradeoffs in California Government

Jon Sonstelie, Tracy Gordon, Patrick Murphy, Ping Zhang, and Jaime Calleja Alderete

The authors of Fiscal Realities: Budget Tradeoffs in California Government examine California’s entire revenue and spending picture in a way different from traditional, program-based analyses. Through a broad budgetary lens, and by looking at years of public opinion surveys, they evaluate what it would take to make Californians’ stated desires for their state a reality. In many cases, doing so would be extremely expensive. Reducing class size so that teacher-student ratios match ratios in other states would cost California governments an additional $15 billion per year. What services would Californians be willing to forego to pay for this? The report should help spark a broad public conversation about the tradeoffs Californians make now and those they might have to make to attain the kind of California they want.