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California tax revenues plunge, deep cuts to schools could be triggered

California’s tax revenues plummeted in July, falling more than 10% below expectations and making it more likely that deeper cuts to public schools built into the state budget in case of a stalled economic recovery will occur.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers patched up the final $4 billion of California’s budget shortfall this year by hoping for a windfall economic recovery. Those hopes are now fading fast.

Tax collections in July were $538.8 million below budget forecasts, according to state Controller John Chiang.

Income taxes were up slightly, but sales and corporate collections lagged by a combined nearly $210 million. But the biggest drag was from the unidentified $4 billion that budget writers had banked on.

“Every drop in revenues puts us closer to the drastic trigger cuts that could be imposed next year," Chiang said in a statement. Those automatic cuts include a reduction in schools spending that could shrink the academic year by as many as seven days in some districts.

Worse, the sagging tax collections were reported before the recent stock market turmoil. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged by more than 600 points on Monday. California relies very heavily on capital gains taxes from the stock taxes.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

 
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