The Legislative Analyst’s Office, LAO, is similar to the federal Congressional Budget Office. It is a nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor and has performed this duty admirably for 75 years.
The LAO is known for its fiscal and programmatic expertise and for providing very important and nonpartisan analyses of the California state budget to the Legislature. The office often acts as the eyes and the ears of the Legislature to ensure that the executive branch is implementing legislative policy directives in a cost‑efficient and very effective manner.
It is overseen by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, JLBC, which is comprised of sixteen legislators. The Committee is bipartisan and has an equal number of Assemblymembers and Senators. The LAO itself has a staff of more than 40 analysts and other support staff to help it do its job.
The key responsibility for the LAO is to analyze the Governor’s annual budget proposal, released by January 10, pursuant to the state constitution. The LAO also does a series of analyses on some of the key fiscal issues and proposals in the Governor’s budget throughout the budget process.
LAO staff will actually sit in on budget subcommittee hearings throughout the budget process and they provide public testimony on the LAO’s recommendations.
The office used to analyze pending legislation, however it was forced to cut back to only analyzing the budget after the passage of Prop 140 in 1990 and the budget cutbacks that resulted from it.
In addition to its work on the state budget, the LAO estimates the fiscal impact on state and local governments of all proposed ballot initiatives prior to the initiatives being in circulation. The office also helps prepare the analyses of all the measures that actually qualify for the state ballot as well.
You can find the full transcript of the audio in this post here.