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State government

California's budget rainy-day fund is expected to grow to almost $8 billion

Gov. Jerry Brown unveiling his state budget on Tuesday. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Gov. Jerry Brown unveiling his state budget on Tuesday. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Even as his state budget plan detailed the reemergence of a potential deficit in the near future, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday presented lawmakers with a fiscal blueprint that projects the state's cash reserve will grow to $7.9 billion.

The passage of Proposition 2 in 2014 strengthened the state's existing rainy-day budget reserve, a savings account first created by voters in 2004. In essence, the new law requires both a larger amount to be set aside each year and the paying of a portion of the state's long-term debts.

Proposition 2 set the goal of a cash reserve fund that's 10% of the amount of tax revenues collected that year. The proposed budget would set aside $1.2 billion, bringing the fund to 63% of its mandated target. That's larger than it was required to grow after Brown and lawmakers agreed to make an extra $2-billion payment last summer.

Even at that level, the reserve fund wouldn't begin to fill the holes that emerged during the worst fiscal crises — an almost $40-billion shortfall set the state record in 2009-10 — but it would soften the blow of a mild recession.

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