Last week the State of California declared official emergency in relation to its fiscal shortfall. The problem, you see, is that torn between various vested interests, California's legislature is unable to approve a new budget for 2011. The State deficit is currently running at $19bn, which represents 22% of the general budget fund. As a part of emergency declaration, Governor Schwarzenegger ordered three days off without pay per month beginning in August for tens of thousands of state employees to preserve the state's cash to pay its debt, and for essential services. Now, 3 days out of each month represents roughly speaking a 14% straight cut across all lines of wages, pensions liabilities, overtime etc. A bit more dramatic than Irish Government 2-year old programme of cutting PS pay by an average of 5-7%.
May be the depth of California's crisis is that much (say 2.5 times?) deeper than the fiscal crisis in Ireland?
Well, let's compare, shall we? To do so, I took budgetary projections (latest available) for California and Ireland and put them side by side. I computed the extent of expected and planned deficits in both locations as a share of the net Government expenditure.
It turns out that in its state of emergency, 'insolvent' California is not 2-3 times worse off than Ireland. It is the 'turning the corner' Ireland that looks 1.5 times worse off than California. And not just now - all the way through the next 4 years.
So California - its Governor and Legislature - are at the very least trying to work through the summer to hammer out some sort of a resolution. Our own legislators and Government are out to enjoy a spot of recreation. And why not, you may ask, if the economy has finally turned the corner... err... sort of... for the 15th time since May 2009 that is...