Capitol Alert

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With state revenues slowing to a trickle as the end of April draws near, the state's top fiscal analyst said late Wednesday that California could be "a few billion dollars" shy of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget projections through June 2013.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said total personal income tax collections would likely be more than $2 billion below Brown's expectation of $9.4 billion for the month. Because the state was already running behind, it would mean PIT revenues would be $3 billion shy for the fiscal year compared to Brown's updated January projections.

Corporate taxes are also likely to trail Brown's forecast by about $450 million for the fiscal year so far, according to LAO.

Unless sales taxes are robust, that means the state would be about $3.5 billion behind for this fiscal year, and likely a "few billion dollars" through the budget cycle that ends in June 2013, the Analyst's Office estimates.

Brown pegged the state's deficit at $9.2 billion through that month, and he suggested last week that the problem might be $1 billion or $2 billion worse than previously stated.

The Analyst's Office says in light of the dramatic revenue differences, "the state's current budget problem may be a few billion dollars than estimated by the administration in January." Still, the LAO said it is difficult to determine the exact impact of the revenue shortfall because of how state education finance formulas work, an anticipated Facebook stock offering and differences over how much money the governor's tax initiative will raise.

Brown will issue a revised budget next month that incorporates tax revenue data for April, the state's biggest collection month. Democratic lawmakers previously hoped for a windfall this month to avert significant cuts to education, health and welfare and other programs.

But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, acknowledged today that it appeared to be a "glass quarter full" situation that will force more cuts than Democrats want to make. He again raised the idea of tapping $1.5 billion once dedicated to affordable housing redevelopment to instead fill the budget hole.



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