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State revenue better than expected last month but not enough to slash the deficit

February 10, 2010 |  5:10 pm

In a glimmer of sunshine for California’s otherwise bleak budget forecast, state Controller John Chiang on Wednesday announced that the state collected $1.28 billion more in January than expected.

Tax collections were strong across the board, with personal income, corporate and sales tax revenues all outpacing projections for the month. Sales tax receipts were nearly 80% higher than for the same period a year earlier.

But the state fell short in some previous months; spending on government programs has been higher than expected; and California still has a deficit of nearly $20 billion.

“The positive receipts are welcome news,” Chiang said in a statement, “but the state cannot be lulled into a false sense of security.” For the fiscal year, tax collections are $459 million, or roughly 1%, above projections.

Chiang warned that the state is still expected to dip below a safe level of cash on hand in late March and early April, before most residents’ tax returns are filed.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento