If Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor are Facebook friends, then Taylor has probably just clicked “like” under Brown’s Jan. 10 status update. That’s when Brown proposed a balanced budget.
Taylor’s approval matters because the legislative analyst’s mission is to give an independent analysis of fiscal matters facing the state government. The Legislative Analyst’s Office is overseen by a bipartisan committee of state Legislators.
“The Governor’s emphasis on fiscal discipline and paying off the state’s accumulated budgetary debts is commendable, especially in light of the risks and pressures that the state still faces,” Taylor said in a report issued Monday.
But Taylor qualifies his support.
In addition, under the Governor’s multiyear plan, the state would still have no sizable reserve at the end of 2016–17 and would not have begun the process of addressing huge unfunded liabilities associated with the teachers’ retirement system and state retiree health benefits. As such, the state faces daunting budget choices even in a much–improved fiscal environment.
The report notes that Brown’s budget projects a surplus, while the LAO itself had foreseen a deficit of $1.9 billion. The difference comes from more optimistic projections on revenues and cost cutting, it says.