18 Month Deficit: $40 Billion

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That's the bleak news you can expect to hear more about today.

An administration official, speaking on background, says that Governor Schwarzenegger will tell legislative leaders today that the new deficit estimate through June 2010 is a whopping $40 billion.

That's up significantly from the last official estimate for the 18-month gap, which was $28 billion from Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor.

As we found out yesterday, almost $15 billion of the $40 billion shortfall is in these final six months of the current fiscal year. And for the first time, the estimates now include both missing revenues and higher-than-expected expenses.

While it still isn't as deep as the 2003 deficit, which at the time was pegged at about $38 billion (estimates varied, and still do), that gap was closed with a lot of one-time gimmicks that are no longer viable, either for policy or political reasons.

The bad news comes on the heels of Schwarzenegger's jabs at legislators in a news conference yesterday. One wonders how the juxtaposition of those two factors will affect the mood inside today's planned Big Five meeting.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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