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California Deficit Swells to $16 Billion, Governor Says

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California Governor Jerry Brown
California Governor Jerry Brown introduces his 2012-13 budget proposal at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Jan. 5, 2012. Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- California’s budget deficit has swelled to $16 billion after tax collections trailed projections amid the tepid economic recovery, Governor Jerry Brown said in a comment on his Twitter post.

The shortfall has widened from the $9.2 billion Brown estimated in January, after lawmakers resisted the Democrat’s call for cost cuts, the federal government blocked other reductions and April income-tax revenue missed budget forecasts by $2 billion. On May 14, he’s set to unveil a revised spending plan and to say how he would erase the gap.

Brown, 74, set out an initial budget in January with $92.6 billion in spending for fiscal 2013, which begins in July. That plan stripped more than $4 billion from health and welfare programs while relying on higher income and sales taxes. The levy increases will go before voters in November. If rejected, schools will lose $4.8 billion midway through the year.

“We are still recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s,” Brown said in a YouTube video cited on his Twitter post. “Tax receipts are coming lower than expected and the federal government and the courts have blocked us from making billions of necessary budget reductions. The result is that we are now facing a $16 billion deficit.”

Brown this week submitted more than 1.5 million signatures to place the tax measure on the ballot. It would temporarily raise the state sales tax, already the highest in the U.S., to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent. It would also boost rates on income starting at $250,000. The 10.3 percent levy on those making $1 million or more would rise to 13.3 percent, the most of any state.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at mmarois@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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