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California's budget deficit is likely worse than Gov. Jerry Brown's estimate of $15.7 billion, the state's top fiscal analyst indicated Friday.

Brown proposed a $91.4 billion general fund budget Monday that slashes health and welfare programs, courts and state worker pay. His proposal also relies on voters temporarily raising taxes on sales and wealthy earners to help cover this year's budget gap and deficits in future years.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Friday that Brown's revenue forecast is "reasonable," though the Analyst's own projection is still $550 million below the governor's through June 2013. On top of that, the LAO warned that Brown's estimate of money available from former redevelopment programs could be overstated by $900 million.

Based on those initial judgments, the Analyst's Office seems to suggest the state deficit is north of $17 billion rather than $15.7 billion, which was Brown's estimate. But the Analyst's Office didn't provide an exact deficit figure and simply says that the budget problem is "likely somewhat larger" than Brown has estimated.

The Analyst's Office estimates that the state now has an accumulated deficit of $7.6 billion -- meaning a hole that exists because the state failed to balance budgets in the past -- as well as a structural imbalance of roughly $10 billion between revenues and expenditures annually. It believes that the governor's mix of onetime solutions to solve the accumulated deficit is fine, but that the state also needs permanent cuts or revenues to truly solve the gap.

Post updated to clarify that the Analyst's Office is not providing an exact deficit estimate.



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