It’s “so far, NOT so good” for Gov. Jerry Brown’s new budget. Since Brown signed the spending plan into law, revenues have come in 10% short of expectations. The numbers seem to defy the governor’s optimistic expectations for the fiscal year that began on July 1, and are a likely indicator of the toll the economy is still taking on states across the country.
In July, the state brought in $4.71 billion, according to data released Tuesday by its controller. That was $538.8 million short of the expected $5.25 billion for the month. August wasn’t trending well either as of mid-month, though final figures won’t be in until September.
In order to close the state’s $25 billion budget deficit, Brown and Democrats in the legislature are relying, in part, on $4 billion in “anticipated” revenues. No Republicans voted for the budget.
If that “anticipated” revenue doesn’t materialize, Brown’s plan calls for midyear cuts that could hit public schools, universities and other areas if the state’s revenue assumptions are too high by $1 billion or more. If revenues are off by more than $1 billion, look for $600 million in cuts to higher education and childcare. If they are off by more than $2 billion, more cuts are in store for K-12 education, which could kick in as early as January 2012.
“While we hope for better news in the months ahead, every drop in revenues puts us closer to the trigger cuts that could be imposed next year,” Controller John Chiang said in a statement.
Mammoth Unified School District Superintendent Rich Boccia is watching this situation closely. Boccia hopes to fiscally shore up the District by pushing hard for passage of a new five-year term for its $59 Parcel Tax, which will be put before voters this November. The tax, a one-size fits all, annual tax on property owners, has provided roughly $650,000 of what Boccia and former Finance Director Jim Maxey say might have started out as “supplemental,” but has lately become “essential revenue” in the MUSD budget.
Boccia has said the Parcel Tax could well mean the difference between riding a state budget cut storm out and being forced to make difficult, and indeed painful choices. “The Parcel Tax is now a ‘local stimulus package,’ and if it fails we will have drastic cuts in staffing and programs at all levels,” Boccia told The Sheet.