A monitor reads ‘California Roars Back’ during Newsom’s budget revise presentation on May 14, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

(CALMATTERS) – Gov. Gavin Newsom, who spent the past week touting the state’s staggering $76 billion surplus, had some of the wind taken out of his sails Monday when the nonpartisan group that advises the state Legislature estimated the actual size of the surplus to be $38 billion. The sizable discrepancy derives from different definitions of “surplus”: Newsom included constitutionally required spending on schools, reserves and debt payments in his total — presumably because a larger number would generate more buzz — while the Legislative Analyst’s Office did not. The office also poked holes in Newsom’s sprawling list of proposals, noting that it might be wiser to use the surplus to comprehensively address a few key issues, rather than spreading the money across 400 new programs.

Other key recommendations from the legislative analyst:

  • “In contrast to the governor” proposing to borrow money and tap into reserves, lawmakers should “restore budget resilience” by saving money to help cushion the state against projected future deficits.
  • Lawmakers should take more time to consider Newsom’s proposals, rather than spending almost all of the state surplus and federal stimulus at once with limited oversight.

Speaking of Newsom’s big proposals, CalMatters’ Jackie Botts breaks down who would qualify for the second round of Golden State stimulus checks, if they’re approved by the Legislature.