If You Think It's Bad Now…

California faces a $15.4 billion budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, nearly double the previous estimate, according to our governor. That will climb to $21.3 billion if voters reject the five budget-related measures on the May 19 special election ballot.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger outlined the state's dire fiscal condition Monday in a letter to legislative leaders, a week before voters go to the polls.

His spokesman, Aaron McLear, said the governor wanted to share the bad news with legislative leaders as quickly as possible.

"It strikes me that the timing certainly raises the appearance of being wholly politically driven," Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. told the Los Angeles Times. "They're clearly trying to persuade voters to vote in a certain manner."

Schwarzenegger said he will offer up two versions of the revised state budget this week - one that corrects the $15.4 billion deficit, the other that addresses the $21.3 billion deficit.

One of the solutions could be releasing low-level offenders in state prison or pulling billions out of school funding.

"I think the timing of this release is another in a line of tactics to scare voters into voting for these failing measures," Mike Roth, spokesman for the labor-backed No on 1A campaign, told the Sacramento Bee.

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In March, the legislative analyst projected an $8 billion deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1, but tax receipts have been way down. California faces a decline in personal income for the first time since 1938.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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