As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Arnold's New Budget Deficit - Trust But Verify

I have several questions about this sudden restatement of the budget deficit for the next year. First of all, this is not an independent assessment by the Legislative Analyst, but from the Department of Finance. No report was released accompanying the budget revise, just some raw numbers in a letter to the legislature. Apparently a dual revision, one based on whether the ballot measures pass and one based on whether they fail, will be illegally delivered on Thursday, despite the fact that the February budget deal calls for it to be released on May 28. The Governor is getting around this by calling the release a "summary," allowing them to AGAIN show no numbers, just a "trust me" belief that the deficit is now $15 billion, $21 billion if Props. 1C, 1D, and 1E go down.

More curious is this bit from John Myers:

Taking a closer look at the $15.4 billion deficit projection, aides to Schwarzenegger say that a full $7.4 billion of that is in the fiscal year that ends just 50 days from now; the remaining $8 billion is in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

That $8 billion in the '09-'10 year matches up with March's projection by Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. And given that Controller John Chiang announced last Friday a $2.1 billion shortfall in anticipated revenues for the current year... that leaves about $5 billion in what budget watchers might call "new" deficit in this announcement.

That doesn't make a lick of sense. I believe Chiang's numbers that we're $2 billion short in tax collection in the current year through April 30. I do not at all believe a Governor who has lied repeatedly about budget projections throughout his entire career, claiming $5 billion in new deficit in the last 50 days of the budget year. Especially because there are no independent numbers to check.

Like Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, I would not be SURPRISED that we're not $15 billion out of balance. Some expenditure increases contributed to this deficit, and clearly the worsening economic picture has strained the revenue side. But I'm funny this way - I actually want to see the data. The Governor has spent the entire special election trying to scare people into compliance; would anyone but this Hail Mary pass with one week to go past him?

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