As if the federal budget mess weren't bad enough, America's largest state is laboring under its own impending fiscal disaster:
At press time, California was being governed under a state of economic “emergency” declared by Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in light of a staggering $28 billion budget shortfall expected in the next 18 months.
It gets worse. Medium-term unfunded liabilities for government employee pensions are pegged by the Legislative Analyst’s Office at $136 billionand that’s a lowball figure. Legislative analyst Mac Taylor acknowledges in his current fiscal outlook report that the estimate leaves out billions in funding shortfalls at the pension funds for public school teachers and University of California employees. In the next 10 years, taxpayers will most likely be on the hook for somewhere between $325 billion and $500 billion. (Over the past five years, state revenues averaged $94.5 billion per year.)
The Golden State's legislature is deeply beholden to public employee unions, so reformers are looking to Governor Jerry Brown for answers. And like his analogues at the national level, making good policy for the people will require him to go against his political interests.