About That Surprise California Budget “Surplus”: There is No Surprise and No Surplus Either
Last month writers were all aglow on the state of finances in California. For example …
- The Christian Science Monitor reported Surprise! California has a budget surplus
- Reuters reported California Governor’s budget has surprise: a surplus
Today we learn the surprise $5-billion bump in revenue in January is likely an accounting anomaly as a result of tax changes.
The surge of revenue that showed up unexpectedly in state coffers last month may well be offset by a revenue dip in coming months, according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. The surprise money has been the source of much speculation in the Capitol. Unanticipated tax receipts filled state coffers with more than $5 billion beyond initial projections for January — more tax dollars than are allocated to the entire state university system in a year.
The revenue bump was historic. But the question for budget experts was whether lawmakers could begin allocating the windfall toward government programs and tax breaks — or whether the money amounted to an accounting anomaly.
Brown’s budget office now advises in an official cash report that it is probably the latter. The report says the extra money was “likely the result of major tax law changes at the federal and state level having a significant impact in the timing of revenue receipts.”
That is: Taxpayers were paying a share of their bill early, getting income off their books in the hope of limiting exposure to the tax hikes that recently kicked in.
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
There is no surprise. Are you surprised by the non-surprise? I am not.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock