California Media Arithmetic

The State of California has current budget woes in addition to its long term problems with its pension funds.  Here is a longish quote from the AP but we need it all:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration miscalculated costs for the state Medi-Cal program by $1.9 billion last year, an oversight that contributed to Brown’s projection of a deficit in the upcoming budget, officials acknowledged this week.

The administration discovered accounting mistakes last fall, but it did not notify lawmakers until the administration included adjustments to make up for the errors in Brown’s budget proposal last week. The Democratic governor called for more than $3 billion in cuts because of a projected deficit he pegged at $1.6 billion.

“There’s no other way to describe this other than a straight up error in accounting, which we deeply regret,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance.

The agency followed its normal practice by waiting to report the errors in the governor’s next budget, he said.

Brown’s deficit projection was driven by more than just the accounting error, Palmer said, noting that California tax collections came in below expectations for most of the first half of the fiscal year.

So they miscalculated by $1.9 billion.  Bad things do seem to happen to liberals.

Sidebar: Well, the article lists the Medi-Cal errors in millions as $487, $913, and $573 and that adds to $1,973 million so the correct rounding to a tenth of a billion is $2.0 rather than $1.9.  End Sidebar

More important and more confusing are the projected deficit and the amount of the needed cuts.

The deficit is put at $1.6 billion but the errors are larger than that and CA tax collections are below expectations.  Why is the deficit not substantially in excess of $2 billion?  That number might be consistent with the need for more than $3 billion in cuts.  It might be biennial math like we have in Wisconsin where there is a two-year budget cycle.  Or there might be two fiscal years in discussion.  Or reporters might be innumerate.  They owe us a better explanation of California’s budget woes.


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