With tax revenue slowing to a trickle as the end of April draws near, the state's top fiscal analyst predicted late Wednesday that California would be "a few billion dollars" shy of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget projections through June 2013.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said total personal income tax collections would likely be more than $2 billion below Brown's expectation of $9.4 billion for the month. Because the state was already running behind, it would mean the take from income taxes would be $3 billion shy for the fiscal year that ends June 30 compared with Brown's updated January projections.
Corporate taxes are also likely to trail Brown's forecast by about $450 million for the fiscal year so far, according to the analyst.
Unless sales taxes are robust, that means the state would be about $3.5 billion behind for this fiscal year, and likely a "few billion dollars" through the budget cycle that ends in June 2013, the Legislative Analyst's Office estimates.
Brown pegged the state's deficit at $9.2 billion through that month, and he suggested last week that the problem might be $1 billion or $2 billion worse than previously stated.
The LAO says in light of the dramatic revenue differences, the budget gap may be a few billion dollars worse than Brown's January estimate.
Still, the analyst's office said it is difficult to determine the exact impact of the revenue shortfall because of how state education finance formulas work, taxes on an anticipated Facebook stock offering and differences over how much money the governor's tax initiative will raise.
Brown will issue a revised budget next month that incorporates tax revenue for April, the state's biggest collection month.
Brown has called out Democratic lawmakers to "man up" and make cuts, but they have resisted. He's also seeking a November ballot measure to ask voters to increase income taxes on high earners and general sales taxes.
Democratic lawmakers previously hoped for a windfall this month to avert significant cuts to education, health and welfare, and other programs.
But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, acknowledged Wednesday that it appeared to be a "glass quarter full" situation that will force more cuts than Democrats want to make. He again raised the idea of tapping $1.5 billion once dedicated to affordable housing redevelopment to instead fill the budget hole.