Audit: A Bad Fiscal Year

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Not that you needed a formal audit of California government to know it, but today's detailed report gives some final clarity to how much the state took in last year... and how much more it spent.

State Auditor Elaine Howle's report on government finances for the 2007-2008 fiscal year appears to examine every nook and cranny for where the money came from and where it went. You can peruse it for yourself.

But the bottom line: expenses far outpaced revenues in a year that saw recessionary pressures only add to the ongoing systemic issues with funding state government.

One nice summary can be found in the first few pages of Howle's report:

General revenues rose by only 1.0%, the smallest increase since 2001, primarily in personal income, corporate, and sales tax revenues. However, expenses for the State’s governmental activities grew by 8.2%— one of the highest rates of growth since 2001— resulting in a decrease in governmental activities’ net assets.

Howle counts $177.479 billion in state government revenues for last fiscal year and $187.846 billion in state government expenses.

The report is much, much more in depth than any other analysis of how state government operates. It includes not just the often debated issues of the general fund and taxes, but is broad enough to also examine business-type activities of the state like the California Lottery and unemployment programs.

All sides of the ongoing debate over the budget and the state's spending and taxing priorities will find something to chew on in this report; that includes the various parties lining up on either side of the May 19 budget-related ballot measures.

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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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