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Controller John Chiang said Wednesday that lawmakers who fear the prospect of automatic mid-year budget cuts should find alternatives soon.

In a meeting with The Bee Capitol Bureau, Chiang wouldn't predict whether "trigger" cuts to education and social services would happen. Under the budget approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers, California is required to impose up to $2.5 billion in cuts if fiscal analysts determine in the next few weeks the state will fall short in revenues this fiscal year.

Chiang reported last month that California is running $705.5 million short through the first quarter of the fiscal year, from July to September. Some budget experts have downplayed that shortfall, saying the amount received so far is less important than what forecasters believe California will take in from January to June based on economic indicators.

The Democratic controller credited the "trigger" cuts for adding certainty to the state budget in unpredictable times, noting that credit rating agencies have looked favorably on that mechanism. But he knows many Democratic lawmakers, who agreed to triggers only at Brown's urging, don't feel the same way.

"As I share with a few legislators when I talk to them today, I say if you don't like the fact that we may have triggers, then you better offer an alternative, and you should offer that alternative pretty quickly," Chiang said.



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