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California needs $28 billion in taxes by the end of July

Boxes of opened and emptied envelopes at the California Franchise Tax Board.
The budget signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom almost three weeks ago assumes $28 billion in tax revenue to be collected by the end of July.
(Laura Morton / For The Times)

Among the many unprecedented challenges faced by Gov. Gavin Newsom and California legislators in crafting the budget signed into law last month, few were as foundational as the lack of solid data about how much money the state government would have to spend.

Newsom gave California taxpayers an automatic extension of the April 15 deadline to pay their personal income taxes, moving the date to July 15. Those who normally pay their taxes quarterly were also allowed to use the new due date.

The April and June tax collections are often the most important in determining service levels for schools, social services and healthcare programs.

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So how are those projections holding up after the July 15 filing deadline?

$28 billion over the course of 31 days

The budget signed by the governor almost three weeks ago assumes $28 billion in tax revenue to be collected by the end of July, according to the state Department of Finance. Most of that amount — a net total of $21.4 billion — is expected to come from personal income taxes. Corporate taxes, sales taxes and a variety of smaller tax collections make up the rest of the estimate.

Through Friday, personal and corporate tax receipts totaled $18 billion — about 69% of what’s expected for the month, with 10 business days left to go. (Fun fact: About $7.3 billion in personal income taxes was paid in a single day, last Thursday.)

Those who study these numbers closely seem upbeat. The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office noted Friday that collections measured over the entire April-to-July tax season are $3.7 billion above budget projections. But it’s hardly a time to celebrate, as year-to-year tax revenue has declined, and previous years have sometimes seen tax payments slow to a trickle.

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It’s safe to assume that (at least) two things will happen when the July tax payments and refunds are completed. First, there will surely be a robust discussion at the state Capitol about additional help for communities battling the summertime surge in COVID-19 cases. And lawmakers will probably weigh giving more cash to K-12 schools — something education groups are insisting is essential in light of Newsom’s sweeping decision last week to require most California schools to open only for remote learning due to pandemic concerns in at least 32 counties.

Researchers: Revamp California redistricting panel selection rules

On Tuesday, the eight men and women selected to draw new political maps as members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will meet for the first time. They have a little less than a month to fill the final six seats on the panel, a job that will be closely watched after the initial selection process failed to produce a single Latino commissioner — in a state where Latinos compose about 40% of the population.

A trio of academic researchers, led by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, has released a detailed study that suggests diversity on the 2010 redistricting panel helped ensure racial and ethnic diversity among those elected under the existing congressional and legislative maps. The researchers are urging the new commissioners to select multiple Latinos to join their ranks. And they propose changes to the selection process for redistricting commissioners the next time around.

Changes in two key parts of the selection process should be considered, the researchers suggest. The random selection of the first eight commissioners could be improved by methods that use race and ethnicity, not just balanced political party representation, in drawing the names.

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And they urge the Legislature to consider taking itself completely out of the process, rescinding the state law that allows legislative leaders to strike up to 40% of the finalists. They write that “the intent of the voters” in passing redistricting ballot measures in 2008 and 2010 “was to remove the ability for state lawmakers to engage in redistricting.”

At the very least, the report’s authors write, the four legislative leaders should be more transparent in their actions — given that none of the state Senate and Assembly leaders (all were subsequently contacted by The Times) would disclose which applicants they had personally removed and why.

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National lightning round

— Undeterred by civil rights lawsuits and pleas from local officials to stand down, federal agents in camouflage have continued their crackdown against demonstrators in Portland.

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— The death toll keeps rising as COVID-19 rages across Florida, Arizona and other campaign battlegrounds, but the television ads President Trump is airing in those states say nothing about the pandemic — a conspicuous omission.

— Trump in a TV interview refused to promise that he would accept November’s presidential election results and brushed aside public opinion polls that show his standing with voters sliding over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Roger Stone, a political operative whose 40-month prison sentence was commuted this month by the president, his longtime friend, used a racial slur on-air while verbally sparring with a Los Angeles-based Black radio host.

— The death of civil rights icon John Lewis prompted an outpouring of tributes over the weekend, a combination of mournful praise and calls to action as the nation faces a fresh reckoning with persistent racism half a century after his pioneering protests for Black equality.

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— Of all the ways that Lewis influenced American life and politics, his impact on young people may be among the most enduring.

Today’s essential California politics

— Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city opened too quickly and again warned that leaders are close to imposing some type of new stay-at-home order.

— Coronavirus testing delays and inadequate resources for contact tracing make it impossible to halt the spread of the virus, yet Newsom and health officials said the state needed both before opening up.

— And speaking of testing: State officials have adopted new guidelines outlining who should be prioritized.

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— Expanded unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire at the end of July, leaving tenants, landlords and housing advocates worried about a wave of evictions in the coming months as renters lose much of their incomes.

— With the current downturn, Black households face a greater probability of being unable to pay, raising the risk some may be forced onto the streets or into shelters.

— On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is slated to debate a proposal potentially holding county officials accountable if they fail to uphold more aggressive antiracist policies.

— The California Supreme Court, citing the coronavirus pandemic, has decided to permanently lower the passing score for the bar exam and allow aspiring lawyers to take it remotely in October.

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