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BB SCHWARZENEGGER H20 0168.JPGAs California's tax revenues and state spending have dropped in recent years, the amount of money the state must spend to service bond debt has remained fixed.

The result, according to a new analysis of state debt by the Legislative Analyst's Office, is that the percentage of state spending devoted to repayment has been climbing and is likely to keep growing as more bonds are issued.

Debt service is now about 6 percent of the state's $86 billion general fund budget, more than twice what it was a decade ago, thanks both to more borrowing and either stagnant or declining spending during the decade. Since 2000, voters have authorized nearly $97 billion in new bond issues, although not all of them have been sold.

Borrowing, coupled with stagnation in spending due to a stubborn recession, could push the portion of the budget devoted to bond service past 8 percent by mid-decade, the analysis says.

The analysis was prepared by the Legislative Analyst's Office to accompany its voter guide explanation of a new $11.1 billion water bond issue, Proposition 18, on the November ballot. But it may be moot: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders, fearing its rejection, want to delay placing the bond before voters until 2012.

The full bond debt overview can be accessed here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at a rally in support of his water bond proposal at the state Capitol on Aug. 13, 2008. Sacramento Bee file photo/ Brian Baer.


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