Good news for Californians: State to run out of cash by March
It's good news in the sense that a state going broke is one way to stop the spending. A better way, of course, is to cut the budget.
Alas, Governor Moonbeam doesn't appear to have it in him:
California will run out of cash by early March if the state does not take swift action to find $3.3 billion through payment delays and borrowing, according to a letter state Controller John Chiang sent to state lawmakers today.
The announcement is surprising since lawmakers previously believed the state had enough cash to last through the fiscal year that ends in June.
But Chiang said additional cash management solutions are needed because state tax revenues are $2.6 billion less than what Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers assumed in their optimistic budget last year. Meanwhile, Chiang said, the state is spending $2.6 billion more than state leaders planned on.
The Assembly budget committee approved a bill today that would enable $865 million of borrowing from existing state accounts, Senate Bill 95. Chiang, after consultation with the Department of Finance and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, is also seeking about $2.4 billion in delayed payments to universities, counties and Medi-Cal, as well as additional borrowing from outside investors.
Absent these actions, the state would fall below its prudent $2.5 billion cash cushion on Feb. 29, Chiang estimated. On March 8, the state would actually end up $730 million in the red. The state would be below the safe cash cushion for several weeks ending April 13, save for several days at the end of March.
With such actions, Chiang believes the state would not have to use IOUs or delay tax refunds, maneuvers that have been relied upon in previous years. But Chiang also said that "more cash solutions may be required if our revenues continue to erode or if disbursements significantly exceed estimates."
Offering budget gimmicks instead of leadership is about par for the course for California Democrats.
Note also the state is a whopping $2.6 billion short in expected revenue. Raising taxes never brings in the amount that politicians say it will - which is why it's a lousy way to cut the budget.