Few outside of Sacramento realize that some of the most important state budget decisions happen just before Christmas, in private meetings where the governor signs off on the spending plan he will present to the Legislature in early January.
While we don’t know what Gov. Jerry Brown has decided, here’s a safe bet about the budget debate of 2018: It will be resolved in some measure by spending agreements that are less about “if” and more about “when.”
Key to that, of course, is money. Last month, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that tax collections will soar past official projections by $7.5 billion in the budget year that begins next July. That gives lawmakers a wide range of options.
The process for divvying up cash is where the deal-making happens. And in the five years since the last budget deficits, there have been some clear signs that lawmakers have started to look beyond the next 12 months.