Data Tracker

State spending more money than ever, but how to measure it?

When it comes to debating whether California government spends too much money or too little, there are multiple reasons agreement is hard to come by.

The budget unveiled last month by Gov. Jerry Brown calls for general fund spending of $122.6 billion. That’s about 6 percent higher than the amount lawmakers approved for the current fiscal year and more than 40 percent higher than the general fund for the first full fiscal year after Gov. Jerry Brown returned to the statehouse in 2011.

The general fund gets the bulk of its revenue from personal income, sales, and corporations taxes. State spending, though, increasingly draws from hundreds of special accounts funded by special fees, taxes and other revenue.

Brown’s plan calls for special funds to spend about $45 billion in the coming fiscal year. That is down slightly from the current year, but about a third more than the special-fund total when Brown began his third term.

Between the two sources, spending in the coming fiscal year would total $167.6 billion, or about $4,200 for each Californian. That’s two-thirds higher than he was 40 years ago, after adjusting for inflation.

As a percentage of overall personal income in the state, however, proposed spending levels for the coming year are 7 percent higher than in 1976-77: $7.22 per $100 of personal income vs. $7.78.

The state workforce is also relatively smaller: about 9 state employees per 1,000 California residents this year, compared to nearly 10 state employees per 1,000 residents 40 years ago.

The Sacramento Bee’s Data Tracker is a weekly feature that offers a deeper look at the numbers behind today’s news. Jim Miller: 916-326-5521, @jimmiller2