This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- A scathing state audit says University of California President Janet Napolitano's office failed to disclose surplus cash and paid some staffers high salaries.
- An effort to ban the so-called '"Netflix tax" on streaming video failed in an Assembly committee.
- Challengers have emerged for two Republican incumbents, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton).
As Californians rush to file their personal income taxes before a midnight deadline, budget writers in Sacramento are expecting more than $1 billion in payments on Tuesday to help balance the state's books.
Brown's budget team has projected a total of $14 billion in income tax revenues this month, a slight uptick from actual returns in April of last year. An analysis by the independent Legislative Analyst's Office shows that total collections for the month are currently running about 10% above the same time last year.
The final totals as of April 30 are crucial to crafting both Brown's revised budget plan, which will be presented to the Legislature next month, and the final plan lawmakers must put in place by June 30.
Tax revenues for the current fiscal year — combining sales and corporate taxes along with those paid by individuals — were about $780 million higher than the governor's estimates through the end of March, the analysts report. Lawmakers and Brown often spar over whose tax revenue predictions to use when crafting a spending plan, a debate the governor has consistently won since returning to office in 2011.
Data from the state controller's office shows that on tax day in 2016, the state collected $1.5 billion in income taxes. Although taxes collected in other months are also important in building state budgets — notably June and September as quarterly taxes are paid — April remains perhaps the best indicator of the fiscal road ahead.
Brown's January budget plan projected a $1.6-billion deficit, with proposals to resolve the shortfall including the cancelation of some 2016 spending plans and slower funding growth for California schools.