When is a prediction of a $1.9 billion shortfall actually considered good news?
In deficit-battered, recession-weary California, that's the case.
It sounds strange, until you consider that it sounds a whole lot better than the staggering $41 billion deficit projected at the end of 2008 -- and much better than the $25 billion hole that the state's Legislative Analyst was forecasting in 2010. And much more rosy than the $16 billion shortfall Gov. Jerry Brown was projecting just last spring.
On Wednesday, the Analyst's office -- respected for its nonpartisanship -- said its $1.9 billion deficit estimate covers the next year-and-a-half. The report cast the state's recovering finances in a favorable light, thanks to earlier budget cuts and the voter approval of Proposition 30.
"The additional, temporary taxes provided by Proposition 30 have combined to bring California a promising moment: the possible end of a decade of acute state budget challenges," the LAO report said.
In fact, the report floated the possibility of the state actually running a surplus of up to a billion dollars by 2014.
Let me be the first to predict that California will not have a budget surplus in 2014. Nor will it run "only" a $2 billion deficit.
By my estimation, California's budget deficit will run at least an order of magnitude higher -- at $20 billion plus. You can stick a fork in the Golden State.
And you are making your prediction of calamity based on....what? Oh, that crystal ball out there on the far right fringe, which requires nothing but jibberjabber.
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