State budget seems healthy, but it isn’t

Brown will likely give a little on spending, insist on fattening reserves a little more and claim that he’s tamed the budget crisis he faced upon returning to the governorship in 2011 after a 28-year absence.

However, he hasn’t. In fact, during his second stint as governor, Brown, lawmakers and voters have made the state’s longer-term situation potentially even worse, as Taylor very indirectly hints.

For one thing, off-budget debts, especially for pensions and health care for retired state workers, have increased. Brown has made some token efforts to deal with them, but has never been willing to fully confront the issue.

For another – and more importantly – the recent comity on budgets has stemmed from two very uncertain factors: a relatively healthy economy and hefty increases in income tax rates on the highest-income Californians that most voters eagerly embraced because they wouldn’t be paying them.

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