A study conducted by two national think tanks has concluded that California's pending domestic-partners bill, AB 205, which seeks to provide same-sex couples with almost all of the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples who marry, will have a positive fiscal impact on the state's budget. The study was produced jointly by the Williams Project of UCLA School of Law and the Institute for Lesbian and Gay Strategic Studies. It estimates that AB 205 will have a positive savings impact of approximately $8.1 to $10 million a year. Because AB 205 would require that the income of a person's domestic partner be included when determining eligibility for state benefit programs, many would no longer qualify, the study claims. "Even if only a small percentage of individuals living with partners register and become ineligible for public benefits," says economist and study coauthor M.V. Lee Badgett, "California is likely to reduce its expenditures on these programs by more than $11.5 million each year."
The study, titled "Equal Rights, Fiscal Responsibility," finds that AB 205 would also potentially increase sales tax revenues from tourism and decrease state income tax revenues but would have only a minor effect on administrative costs, state employee benefits, and the state court system. "Our analysis makes it clear that providing California families with equal rights is fiscally responsible," says study coauthor Brad Sears, director of the Williams Project. "Making domestic partners accountable to each other not only strengthens families, it has a positive impact on the state budget."
As of May, approximately 20,000 couples have registered as domestic partners with the California secretary of state. AB 205 is scheduled for a vote in the assembly appropriations committee on Wednesday.