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Calif. tax revenue down $539M in July

August 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California collected $539 million less from tax revenue than the budget plan projected for July, pushing the state closer to automatic, mid-year budget cuts to schools, universities and social services.

While income tax was up, sales and corporate taxes were down.

The lower numbers are worrisome because the state budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed in June relies on a $4 billion windfall. If that doesn't fully materialize by the end of the year, more budget cuts are automatically triggered in January.

Less than $2 billion in extra revenue means public schools will be in session seven fewer days, dropping the school year from 180 days just three years ago to 168 days.

Kids from industrialized nations go to school more than 200 days.

"If the trigger occurs, there will irreparable harm done to a generation of kids," said Prof. Linda Darling-Hammon of the Stanford University School of Education.

With budgets and lessons already in place, school administrators wonder how to readjust in January.

If $2 to $3 billion in extra revenues come in, the academic year stays intact, but cuts to the University of California and California State University systems and some social programs are automatically triggered at $100 million apiece.

Optimists, though, point out this is just the first month and things could pick up by December.

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