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California's Shaky Trigger Finger

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    Here's some shaky Sacramento math for you. State Controller John Chiang announced Tuesday that tax revenues were actually up by $40 million in July, compared to a year ago.

    So how is more considered bad?  

    Because the budget approved by the legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown assumed much higher projections.  And those revenues are falling far short of what's needed to avoid deep spending cuts to California's classrooms and programs to treat the disabled.

    The July revenues were down ten percent from what budget-writers had projected.

    "While we hope for better news in the months ahead, every drop in revenues puts us closer to the drastic trigger cuts that could be imposed next year," said Chiang.

    Were the numbers overly optimistic?  Or simply an expedient way to end this year's budget stalemate?

    The spending plan signed on June 29 assumed that if the state didn't collect an extra $4 billion windfall this year, that would trigger more cuts.  That scenario is looking more and more likely, especially since the July numbers were reported before this week's deep dive in the stock market.

    California's public schools could face a $1.5 billion cut midway through the coming school year. And the University of California and California State University systems would have to face additional cuts of $100 million each.

    Gov. Brown's Finance Department will finalize its projections in December.  But the new numbers don't spell confidence when it comes to hopes that the budget axe won't fall again.