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California's New Budget Reveal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Accountants in the state of California are counting the money available for the state's budget. They will give us a new number Monday.

    There's an old song that begins, "What a difference a day makes. 24 little hours..."

    That's the time left until the California Department of Finance reveals the latest projections for state revenues during the 2010-2011 fiscal year which ends June 30.

    If the "whisper" numbers are anywhere near accurate, California's budget crisis will spin in an entirely new direction.

    Some people believe that the state may take in as much as $6 billion more in income taxes than previously predicted.

    That's good news and bad news, depending upon who you are and how you view the state's fiscal problems.

    For the legislative Republicans who have steadfastly rejected calls for an election to continue three temporary tax increases, the news offers an "I told you so" refrain. The GOP has said that California should live within its means, and $6 billion in extra money will close much of the remaining $14 billion gap left after the legislature made $12 billion in cuts a couple of months ago.

    For Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and his Democratic colleagues in the state legislature, the news is bad in a perverse sort of way. Of course, it's wonderful that revenues exceed expectations, but the extra money undercuts Brown's claim that the state will politically disintegrate without the election and continued temporary tax increases.

    Even if the $6 billion is real, that covers only part of the shortfall, but will other funds be found, too?

    Other players are likely to benefit and suffer as well. Taxpayer groups will crow that once again Democrats have cried "wolf," and once again there is none to be found. This, of course, ignores the draconian budget cuts already made.

    Educators may sense a bit of a reprieve, especially if schools gain the extra funds, but the relief will strain the alliance between educators, higher education leaders, health experts, and representatives of the aged and infirm who, until now, have all been in the same camp and singing the same tune.

    Put it all together and tomorrow's news could have major repercussions for just about everyone.

    Still, the question remains, will the news be enough to save the state, or was the state ever in jeopardy to begin with?

    The drama continues.