December 10, 2008 / 8:46 PM / 10 years ago

California budget woes worsens

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California’s budget crisis is growing worse as its shortfall for its current fiscal year has increased to an estimated $14.8 billion from a previously estimated $11.2 billion, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Wednesday.

During a press conference broadcast on his office’s website, the Republican governor said he would call top lawmakers into a meeting to stress the need for fast action by the Democrat-led legislature on balancing the budget of the government of the most populous U.S. state because it may be out of cash by the end of February.

Schwarzenegger’s new budget shortfall estimate comes a day after state Controller John Chiang reported the state’s general fund revenues in November were $1.3 billion, or 18.5 percent, below expectations.

California’s shrinking revenues and swelling budget shortfall reflect the severity of its housing downturn, rising unemployment and weak consumer spending as both the state and national economies slow.

Schwarzenegger has urged lawmakers to balance the state’s budget with a combination of deep spending cuts and new revenues, including revenues from increasing the state’s sales tax.

Reporting by Jim Christie, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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