Vision & History

Our vision is of a California where everyone has the opportunity to participate fully in the state’s economic, social, and political life. This will require our state to make smart policy choices and the right kinds of public investments today, so we can: create a world-class system of education, from preschool up through college and beyond, help bring a range of employment and housing options within reach of individuals and families, enable communities to be safe and healthy, and provide a strong safety-net for individuals and families who are struggling to find work or make ends meet.

20 Years of Analysis and Impact

The California Budget & Policy Center (formerly the California Budget Project) was founded in 1995 to fill a serious unmet need: for a credible, independent source of information on how budget and tax policies affect low- and middle-income Californians.

Over the years, our organization has grown from a staff of one to a team whose expertise cuts across issues ranging from tax policy and economic trends to education, health, criminal justice, and others. The Budget Center seeks to inform state budget and policy debates by publishing timely analyses and commentary; providing invited testimony at legislative hearings; offering regular trainings on the state budget process and fostering civic engagement, and providing public education as well as customized technical assistance. We serve as a trusted resource for the media and speak at dozens of conferences, convenings, and community meetings around the state each year. The Budget Center also holds Policy Insights, an annual conference that brings together hundreds of advocates, policymakers, researchers, and other leaders working to improve the lives of low- and middle-income Californians.

Our work rests on a basic premise: that California’s budget and policy choices should reflect our state’s values and priorities. By examining the most pressing budget and policy issues and making them accessible and more understandable, we aim to broaden participation in state policy debates and help foster outcomes that work for all Californians, especially those individuals and communities who have not yet shared in our state’s economic prosperity.

Core Principles

Since our founding, the California Budget & Policy Center’s work has been guided by four core principles:

  • Independence: The Budget Center provides fact-based, nonpartisan analyses of state fiscal and tax policies and their implications for all Californians, with a special focus on their impact on low- and middle-income individuals.
  • Fairness and Equity: The Budget Center’s work is grounded in the fundamental belief that government should work to improve the lives of the people it serves. The Center maintains a deep commitment to ensuring that public policies and programs respond effectively to the needs and interests of lower-income individuals, families, and communities throughout California.
  • Integrity: The Budget Center conducts its work with the highest level of intellectual honesty, accuracy, and objectivity in order to effectively inform state fiscal, tax, and other public policies.
  • Empowerment: The Budget Center provides accessible, useable, and timely information on state fiscal, tax, and related public policies in order to expand civic engagement in policy debates.

The California Budget & Policy Center is a nonpartisan organization. We neither support nor oppose any political party nor any candidate running for elected office. We focus solely on evaluating public policies and their impact on low- and middle-income Californians.