For much of California’s history, the Legislature and State regulatory agencies have taken actions that mandate counties implement various programs and services, many of which come at a cost to the county. In 1972, the Legislature recognized this cost, and enacted Senate Bill 90, which stipulates that the State must reimburse local governments for the costs of any new program or higher level of service mandated by the Legislature or a state agency. However, the SB 90 reimbursement process is overly burdensome and lengthy, and often takes several years before decisions are made and reimbursements are granted. Further, State agency actions are rarely recognized as reimbursable mandates, despite the fact that California’s state governing boards and commissions annually adopt new regulations and permits that set new requirements and expenses for local governments.
The State also has a history of suspending mandates and deferring payments of pre-2004 mandates in order to save General Fund monies in the State Budget. As of the 2017-18 State Budget, only a handful of mandates relating to health services, law enforcement, and taxation have been funded by the State, with counties absorbing the majority of other State-mandated costs.
RCRC works on several aspects of the State mandates system, including support for reforming the reimbursement process, and advocating for reimbursement for the costs to counties for compliance with State regulations and permits.