California faces new budget woes, analyst says

  • California's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor discusses his office's review of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $92.6 billion 2012-13 state budget as he discusses the report during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Overall Taylor's office expects less tax revenue in the coming year than the governor's estimates, possibly requiring deeper spending cuts.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown received praise from the Legislature's nonpartisan analyst Wednesday for producing a plan that could ultimately balance the state's perennially deficit-ridden budget, but the governor also received a sobering reminder that his proposal faces a number of obstacles in the months ahead.

The Democratic governor's budget essentially gives California's a choice: Approve higher taxes in the fall, or the state will immediately enact another $5.4 billion in cuts that could include reducing the school year by three weeks.

The state's nonpartisan legislative analyst, Mac Taylor, said Wednesday that if the Legislature passes a spending plan similar to what the governor proposed, California will have taken a dramatic step toward solving its ongoing deficit.

"The Legislative Analyst's Office report underscores the fundamental uncertainty of our time and, therefore, the financial imperative to be prudent, make the tough cuts now and give the voters a choice on additional revenues," Brown said in a statement Wednesday, reacting to the analysis of the budget proposal he released last week.

But the plan faces hurdles: It perpetuates the state's reliance on tax revenue from the rich, a volatile source that fluctuates greatly from year to year, requires support from Democratic lawmakers who are opposed to another year of deep spending cuts to education and social service programs, and hinges what is perhaps the most difficult to read: the whim of California voters.

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