California’s Budget Deficit Spells Trouble

Just a year ago California Governor Gavin Newsom could, and did, brag about the state’s estimated $100 billion surplus. Flush with cash, the preening presidential hopeful was able to hand out thousands of dollars of goodies to households while financing an elaborate multi-billion dollar climate change agenda.

Now the state faces a budget deficit of at least $25 billion, which could grow to $35 to $50 billion if there’s a deep recession. Part of the problem lies with the end of federal Covid spending, but more to blame is the utter dependence of the state on tech billionaire taxpayers and high property prices. These are the top 1% of earners, who pay roughly half of the state’s income taxes.

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Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.