Tax Revenue Blues

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Going into the month of April, there was optimism about the state's tax revenues. But unless things change in a hurry, that optimism is about to replaced by some cold hard facts, and too little cold hard cash.

Data from the state controller's office through yesterday suggests that $927 million will need to be collected each business day left in the month for the state to meet its projected budget revenues.

That's more than any single day has taken in all month long.

Governor Schwarzenegger's budget projected April would see tax revenues of $10.2 bilion. And as you might guess, the month is a big one for the budget, as it accounts for almost 17% of the year's tax dollars.

The controller's website reports that through Thursday, the total take for April is $4,636,480,000. That leaves almost $5.6 billion to go if the state is going to hit its expected mark. Crunch those numbers here on April 23 and you'll find that California government needs an average of $927 million on each of the remaining six business days this month to make the goal. That's substantially more than the single largest day so far this month -- April 16 -- which brought in $777.223 million.

The slightly good news out of all of this is that tax revenues were actually ahead of projections going in to the month of April, to the tune of about $2 billion. That means that if tax revenues average about $594 million per day for the rest of April, we essentially end up even.

Trouble is, even daily totals of $594 million seem to be a stretch (only two days all month have been at or above that level). And even then, an 'even' revenue picture at the end of April still leaves the state with a deep and politically ugly deficit that must be resolved by lawmakers as spring turns into summer.

Bottom line: if things are getting substantially better out there, personal income tax revenues aren't showing it.

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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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