The state's independent budget analyst said Friday that California will take in $3.2 billion more than Gov. Jerry Brown estimated, providing Democratic lawmakers an argument to funnel more money into state programs and setting up a spending showdown with the administration.
The Legislative Analyst's Office released its assessment of Brown's revenue and spending plan just days after the governor's budget update for the fiscal year starting July 1. It said the administration's figures do not reflect the improving economy, including higher capital gains from stock sales.
"We do not agree with the administration's view that there has been a significant dimming of the state's near-term economic prospects," the analyst wrote.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said the new revenue number should not be interpreted "as an automatic green light to increase spending" and noted that paying down debt and building a reserve fund should be a priority.
But Perez also said there is substantial pressure from Democratic lawmakers and advocates to restore programs that were reduced or eliminated during the recession when the state dealt with multibillion dollar deficits year after year.
Brown proposed a $96.4 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year on Tuesday. He wants to funnel more money to K-12 schools but limit state obligations to ongoing programs.
The governor had projected that the economy would not recover as fast and predicted lukewarm wage growth.