CA going broke, just like rest of country..

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Submitted by hipmatt on October 24, 2007 - 11:39pm

Schwarzenegger Discipline Shattered by Subprime Slump

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Four years after Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California, vowing to ``tear up the state's credit card,'' the actor and former body- builder is about to charge $7 billion to taxpayers' accounts.

California is selling notes tomorrow due in eight months to help pay its bills until tax revenue comes in, the largest short-term loan since Schwarzenegger took office and almost five times more than last year. Debt is increasing after cash receipts fell $777 million below the state's projections during the first three months of the fiscal year that started July 1.

Schwarzenegger is losing the revenue cushion he used to plug budget deficits as home foreclosure rates increase at a faster pace than the rest of the country. The rise in IOUs is an early sign that finances are deteriorating after four years of revenue growth won credit-rating upgrades and spurred gains of more than 20 percent on California bonds.

``A California budget crisis is beginning to recur, and the big increase in short-term seasonal borrowing is the classic leading indicator,'' said Richard Larkin, a municipal bond analyst at J.B. Hanauer & Co., a Parsippany, New Jersey-based money manager that oversees $10 billion.

Schwarzenegger, 60, may have to cut spending, said H.D. Palmer, his budget spokesman. The state needs to borrow to shore up its reserves after ending last year with about $6 billion less in cash than fiscal 2006, Palmer said.

`Difficult Decisions'

``The continuing slump in the housing market has been a drag on the economy and that has a spillover effect on state revenue,'' Palmer said. ``It's very likely going to involve some very difficult decisions on the spending side.''

The note offering marks the first increase in so-called revenue anticipation securities since 2003, when California sold a record $14 billion. Those bonds closed a hole during a budget crisis that helped force the recall of then-Governor Gray Davis and led to credit-rating downgrades. Short-term borrowings have decreased since then as revenue climbed.

California sold $6 billion of revenue anticipation notes in fiscal 2005, followed by $3 billion the next year and $1.5 billion in 2007, according to state figures. It has borrowed $4.7 billion annually on average in the short-term market since 1990.

``This is a pretty big jump,'' said John Cummings, who manages $14 billion of municipal debt at Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., which oversees the world's largest bond fund. ``It was more than I thought it would be.''

Biggest Sale

The yields on the new notes will be set tomorrow, according to state officials. The sale, managed by Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp., will be the largest short- term offering in the municipal market since a $7.4 billion issue by Texas in 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The debt will mature June 30.

At last year's $1.5 billion sale, California offered yields of 3.35 percent, or 14 basis points below the Bond Buyer 1-Year Note Index, a benchmark for short-term municipal borrowing. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

The new securities may yield 3.35 percent to 3.40 percent, said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for California Treasurer Bill Lockyer. That equates to a spread range of 4 basis points below the index's current level of 3.39 percent, to 1 basis point above it.

California is offering the notes to individual investors in a three-day period ending today before selling them to institutions tomorrow. It collected $1.17 billion in orders during the first two days, Dresslar said.

Revenue Gap

In the three months ended Sept. 30, the state has spent $10.2 billion more than it received in taxes and fees, according to Controller John Chiang. Officials project a $6.1 billion budget gap in fiscal 2009 between mandated expenditures and projected revenue, up from $1.5 billion in the current year.

Budget officials said they don't yet have an estimate for how much the blazes raging in Southern California will cost the state. The current budget includes $82 million in emergency funds for fighting fires. That's in addition to the $861 million allocated to the California Department of Forestry, whose main task is to combat and protect against wildfires in the state.

``Our first thought isn't to get the accountants together, our first thought is to lay on enough manpower and equipment to knock down these fires, stabilize the situation and then begin the process of recovery,'' Palmer said today.

The federal disaster declaration by the Bush administration will allow California to get reimbursed for most of the fire- fighting costs, Palmer said.


Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service increased California's credit rating three times during Schwarzenegger's tenure, while Standard & Poor's lifted it twice. The state, the biggest borrower in the municipal market, is rated A1 by Moody's and A+ by S&P and Fitch, each the fifth-highest of 10 investment grades.

While Moody's and Fitch have ``stable'' outlooks on California's debt, and S&P has it at ``positive,'' all cite the risk to revenue from the housing slump and projections for future budget gaps for leaving the rating the second-lowest in the U.S. after Louisiana.

``People recognize that while there's a little bit of stress, it's still a very manageable level and doesn't appear to have any short-term threat to the state's credit,'' said Paul Brennan, who manages $12 billion of municipal bonds at Nuveen Investments Inc. in Chicago. ``It's in the long term we have to watch.''

No `Upside'

Investors require an extra quarter of a percentage point in yield to own California debt instead of top-rated municipal bonds, down from a high of 63 basis points in July 2003, according to data on 20-year bonds compiled by Bloomberg. That was during the height of the budget crisis under Davis.

The bonds have gained 20.8 percent since Schwarzenegger took office in November 2003, compared with 19.9 percent for the broader municipal market, according to indexes compiled by New York-based Merrill Lynch & Co.

``There doesn't appear to be much upside potential,'' Brennan said.

Foreclosure Rate

The state had the third-highest foreclosure rate in September, or one for every 253 households, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, California-based company that has a database of more than 1 million properties from 2,500 U.S. counties. Only Nevada and Florida had higher foreclosure rates.

Home sales have declined 23 percent this year, the California Association of Realtors said Oct. 10. The trade group estimates a decline of 9 percent in 2008.

As many as half of the 450,000 subprime borrowers nationwide whose mortgages reset at new rates through December may lose their homes because they can't afford the higher payments, according to data complied by UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group. Subprime loans are made to people with poor or risky credit histories.

``If you look at what's going on in the state in terms of the budget and the revenue projections and the revenue collections over the last few months, things are tighter than they have been in the last few years,'' said Emily Raimes, who analyzes California for Moody's in New York.

Past Patterns

From 1991 to 1994, when an economic slowdown curbed revenue, short-term borrowing rose to $9.5 billion from $5.6 billion. The rating fell to A1 at Moody's and A at S&P from AAA, the highest possible. Republican Pete Wilson was governor then.

Short-term borrowing climbed again earlier this decade, reaching a record $14 billion in 2003 from zero in 2000 as revenue fell amid a slowdown in the national economy and a slide in Internet shares. The rating plummeted to Baa1 from Aa2 at Moody's and to BBB from AA at S&P.

``Today's short-term borrowing is the tip of the iceberg,'' J.B. Hanauer's Larkin said. ``This stress will probably play out for two years or more.''

Schwarzenegger campaigned on a promise to rein in spending without raising taxes. ``We tore up the credit card,'' he told lawmakers during his first State of the State speech in January 2004. ``Never again will government be allowed to spend money it doesn't have. Never again will the state be allowed to borrow money to pay for its operating expenses.''

One-Time Items

While revenue growth helped Schwarzenegger meet that goal during his first four budgets, one-time items were used each year to balance the books.

Schwarzenegger proposed in April that the state sell its student loan guarantee portfolio to generate as much as $980 million for the current fiscal year. He included the revenue in his spending plan though no sale has taken place and Democratic lawmakers who control the Legislature have said it is unlikely a sale will happen soon.

``They made tremendous progress, at least through last fiscal year, in terms of cleaning up a lot of the fiscal crisis that was left over from the previous years,'' Douglas Offerman, a credit analyst at Fitch in New York, said in an interview. ``But that's easy to do when year over year you see revenue grow faster than you project. We don't see that happening any more.''

Unlike in 2003, California isn't running out of money, said Raimes at Moody's. The firm said in a report last week that states' revenue growth is ``losing momentum'' as the housing slump threatens growing reserves that helped governments win credit-rating increases.

``That's probably the next big story in the municipal market, not specifically for California,'' said Joe Darcy, who manages $3 billion of municipal bonds at Dreyfus Corp., a unit of New York-based Bank of New York Mellon Corp. ``I don't think we're there yet.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at .

Submitted by pepsi on October 25, 2007 - 1:13am.

Just did a quick search and our (CA) total debt is about 45 (end of 2006), plus 1.5B as mentioned in the article for 2007. That is about $1300 for each everyone of us (or about $3700 per household).

Submitted by bsrsharma on October 25, 2007 - 9:25am.

Though that may sound large, for sake of comparison, Federal debt is about $30,000 per capita or $100,000 per household. State debt is to Federal debt what a cat is to a cow. If you include private sector debt too, our Gross National Debt may even become an elephant!

Submitted by bsrsharma on January 11, 2008 - 9:56am.

US's triple-A credit rating 'under threat'

The US is at risk of losing its top-notch triple-A credit rating within a decade unless it takes radical action to curb soaring healthcare and social security spending, Moody's, the credit rating agency, said yesterday.

The warning over the future of the triple-A rating - granted to US government debt since it was first assessed in 1917 - reflects growing concerns over the country's ability to retain its financial and economic supremacy......

Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 10:11am.

And here I thought I was being clever working for the UC system, thinking we would be sheltered from the housing meltdown.

We just got our budget dinged 10%. :(

Submitted by Bugs on January 11, 2008 - 10:55am.

Chula Vista is cutting back services. City of San Diego is cutting back services, the County is cutting back services. Now the state is cutting back services.

Does anyone see a pattern here? The political acceptability of cutting back services is moving up the governmental pecking order.

Before you know it, we'll get a Presidential line-item veto along with some serious campaign contribution reform for Congress.

Or not.

Submitted by cr on January 11, 2008 - 11:12am.

Well, we may be broke, but at least we will be the leaders in stem cell research.

Here's a crazy idea State of California - how about cutting pay and the number of fat cat bureaucrats sucking our state (and nation for that matter) dry?

When businesses are faced with slowing sales, what do they do?

Submitted by paramount on January 11, 2008 - 12:18pm.

I think the average worker in California would be shocked by not only the salaries, but also the benefits the typical California State employee enjoys.

In Private industry we are forced to pay for these inflated benefits and salaries that most people in private industry could only dream of...

But as history shows, Police State's are expensive to run.

Submitted by Aecetia on January 11, 2008 - 12:20pm.

Entitlements for the undeserving are even more expensive.

Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 12:36pm.

I think the average worker in California would be shocked by not only the salaries, but also the benefits the typical California State employee enjoys.

I would make anywhere from 30%-100% more if I took an equivalent IT job in the private sector.

Benefits are a wash. So far my healthcare has been pretty good, but the dental is weak (which of course is what I need the most help with). No 401k either. With the budget cuts, job security is out the window as well.

Submitted by cr on January 11, 2008 - 1:59pm.

Guaranteed employment, immunity from firing layoff or downsizing, pension plans, and in-the-bag cost of living raises don't exaclty yield the most efficient work ethics.

The government is supposed to answer to the people it's supposed to serve. Not the other way around.

A few months ago the LA Times had an article on some of the council members who weren't taking raises because of the budget problems. I think there 8 of the 30 that weren't. I admire that. I still think they're overpaid, but it's noble if not much more.

Our democratic government jobs are really more socialist, as are the the programs for people who don't work at all.

It's no wonder were in debt, and there's no housing bubble to provide a windfall of cash for them to overspend this time.

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on January 11, 2008 - 2:05pm.

(imagine this in Arnold's voice) ...

Ask not what Caulifornia can do for you. Ask what you can do for Caulifornia !

Submitted by paramount on January 11, 2008 - 4:10pm.

I think the Governor could easily eliminate 20% of all gov't employees with minimal impact to the state.

Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 4:12pm.

I think the Governor could easily eliminate 20% of all gov't employees with minimal impact to the state.

You could say that about any large organization.

Submitted by desmond on January 11, 2008 - 4:52pm.

I would make anywhere from 30%-100% more if I took an equivalent IT job in the private sector.

You probably would not cut it in the private sector.

Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 12:36pm

Proves my point.

Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 5:10pm.

You probably would not cut it in the private sector.

I spent 8 years in the private sector, most of them at Bell Labs and AT&T. There was just as much waste, incompetence and inefficiency there as in government organizations, in my experience.

As one of my projects is a high-performance anti-malware proxy, Piggingtons is part of the QA process! :)

Submitted by meadandale on January 11, 2008 - 5:19pm.

At least companies like Bell Labs and AT&T actually PRODUCE something. Government is like a giant tick sucking the lifeblood out of everyone in the private sector.

Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 5:25pm.

The University of California system doesn't produce anything?

What about all the students that the private sector is hiring, that could not have afforded an education otherwise?

And speaking of blood suckers, nobody can hold a candle to the private sector RE machine. Realtors and mortgage brokers produce what, exactly, now?

Submitted by meadandale on January 11, 2008 - 5:35pm.

Well, the last time I checked, Realtors and Brokers provided a service...the same as lawyers, doctors, accountants....

The beloved UC system where I got two very expensive degrees. Doesn't look like my tax subsidy got me very much....Oh, and isn't it wonderful how state schools are getting public financing for research (e.g. stem cells) but any profit they make from the research is privatized and not given back to the state? Yeah, lovely how that works.

Submitted by NeetaT on January 11, 2008 - 5:49pm.

"The new securities may yield 3.35 percent to 3.40 percent"


Submitted by drunkle on January 11, 2008 - 7:09pm.


"I would make anywhere from 30%-100% more if I took an equivalent IT job in the private sector."

you sure about that? check the latest census numbers on median wage per industry...

my gut feeling is that in the past 10 years, public employment has surpassed private in terms of compensation and benefits... private was where you had a shot at making the big bucks, public was secure, but kinda meagre. not so much so, if cops and teachers are pulling 70k salaries... (numbers oft bandied about here in the past as examples of "median workers" who could afford their dream homes in santee)

Submitted by Ricechex on January 11, 2008 - 7:49pm.

"I think the Governor could easily eliminate 20% of all gov't employees with minimal impact to the state."

Paramount--it would only APPEAR that way. That 20% gov't workers(and that will be the lower rung, not the higher paid folks) will be outsourced, and instead of the money going to the workers, the money will go to one guy that heads up the contract. What that man will do is line his pockets with gold, get crappy and inefficient workers because he pays so low with poor benes, and the public will suffer. Their tax dollars are still be used for the same services.

Then, what will happen (and I have seen it), is anytime the gov't needs more workers, they will give the money to the contractor to hire more workers. No bids, nada.

Submitted by VoZangre on January 11, 2008 - 8:17pm.

18 yrs and counting...

Fed employee ( Vets Hospitals) for the above mentioned
(scary-ass) amount of time. Am now about to fly the coop. DEFINITELY UNDERcompensated. A good 10-20% here in SunnyDaygo. And that includes benes. UCSD offers as good or better and are unionized ( box o worms, I know)... the Fed benes are WAY overrated. There is DEFINITELY a culture of slack, do as lil as which is aboslutley contagious... Newton's First Law and all...

COntract working and shitty underpaid workers who don't give a fiddler's fart beCASUE they have no benes is VERY present here.

As for " You probably couldn't cut it." Sod off, wanker.

ciao for now...


Submitted by kewp on January 11, 2008 - 8:48pm.

you sure about that? check the latest census numbers on median wage per industry...

Positive. IT security is red-hot right now and when I put out some feelers over the last year the positions were all in that range.

I will admit that in my case, I've made pretty much the same in both areas. The potential for upwards mobility seems much more in the private sector, however. Plus one can't ignore bennies like stock options, 401k, etc.

The big benefit for me in the public sector is I can work a 40 hour week and still have energy for some side projects. Which may make me rich one day, who knows.

Submitted by mixxalot on January 11, 2008 - 8:39pm.

State and Federal Government workers and waste

I have seen a mixed bag- since I have done contract work a lot with both federal, state and private companies. I see folks who slack off in both govt and private. Waste in both. The benefits are better in govt jobs. Security is a lot better. Pay not bad if you are in high enough level. I am looking into a federal job in technology as many will soon retire and a pension would be nice to have besides just 401k and social security when I retire.

Submitted by Ricechex on January 11, 2008 - 8:47pm.

Well, if you are going to work for DOD, you may re-consider salary. They have gone to a NSPS system, which is a merit performance based system. The problem is, it won't work that way at all. They have developed a pay banding, supposedly to recruit people in certain fields. Those people will get paid. Other workers, dependent on "available funds." Heh. That means they won't be available. If I didn't have 12 years in, I would find another job.

Submitted by stockstradr on January 11, 2008 - 9:45pm.

Five years ago I had no opinion on the efficiency or pay rates of CA government workers vs. private sector.

Then, thanks to introduction from a cousin, my wife and I became part of social circle made up of workers from San Diego and surrounding cities. (State, City, and County workers)

We noticed two categories:

A small minority were college-educated professionals who were UNDERpaid as gov. workers.

The remaining MAJORITY were UNeducated unprofessionals who drifted for years until "striking it rich" by squirming into cushy government jobs. They were way OVERpaid, particularly since such Bottom 20% Performers could hardly even get hired in Private Sector.

Many a weekend evening I shared beers with countless (often drunk) gov workers, who shared their honest assumptions about their gov job:

1) At work they did the Bare Minimum, knowing countless gov reg's prevented their getting fired (except maybe if they killed a co-worker)...AND they had zero motivation because working hard doesn't help a gov worker's career. (Yes, government funding cuts were a risk for job cuts, but that was an unpredictable event so didn't motivate a better job performance.)

2) To them it was ALL about doing time at the job until they could retire on a fat government pension, often achievable in merely 20 years - and typically paying out remainder-of-life benefits at 60% to 80% of salary! Holy crap; those are my tax dollars paying for THAT.

3) Many worked FOUR days a week MAX but were paid full time.

4) Health benefits were obviously BETTER than in private sector.

5) The second the clock struck their workday closing bell (usually 4:30 PM)...EVERYONE ran for the door. They said by 5 PM their offices were so empty not a mouse was creeping..

6) Those with 10+ years seniority had EIGHT to TWELVE weeks of paid vacation a year. Holy shit, they were ON PAID VACATION one day out of every four work days. No wonder our government moves with the speed of a creeping glacier

Almost every conversation was on how they could facilitate some kind of scam (double jobs, overtime..) to get highest possible salary at retirement, upon which retirement benefits are calculated.

I LAUGH at anyone who claims CA gov workers are as hard working as private sector. I do more work in my typical twelve-hour day than they do in a week.

Submitted by paramount on January 11, 2008 - 11:53pm.

stockstradr: I wish I had not read that, now I am even angrier.

My only glimmer of hope seems to be Ron Paul at this point.

I read last year that CalPERS invests in a hedge fund that focuses on "restructured" companies. A large part of this 'restructuring' was to eliminate company pension funds (for private sector employees).

Submitted by kewp on January 12, 2008 - 9:57am.

I LAUGH at anyone who claims CA gov workers are as hard working as private sector. I do more work in my typical twelve-hour day than they do in a week.

It must be grueling work, "stockstradr"!!!

Btw, the various CA pension funds are all rotten with toxic debt these days, thanks to you industrious private sector folk!

Submitted by no_such_reality on January 12, 2008 - 11:09am.

Schwarzenegger Discipline Shattered by Subprime Slump

What discipline?

The revenues the Government has today compared to 2004 when he took office is up more than 30%. Spending has increased even more.

Bonds make expenses, expenses make deficits. Discipline isn't proposing a new credit card for programs that don't fit in the budget. When you do, you end up with a $14 Billion deficit when the payments are due.

The 2003 California State Budget was $98.9 Billion dollars.

The 2007 California State Budget was $143.4 Billion dollars.

That's a 10% a compound annual growth rate.

Submitted by jennyo on January 12, 2008 - 11:32am.

NSR, you are correct in pointing out the ridiculousness of the notion that the current governor has exercised any kind of fiscal discipline. But the budget totals you are citing are not an apples-to-apples comparison. You are using the 2003 General Fund total, and the 2007 "all funds" total. The 2007 GF total is closer to $101 billion. There is always around $45 or so billion in special fund spending that is counted in the overall state budget, but does not come from the General Fund and your income, sales and corporation taxes. Instead it is funding from fees like the Motor Vehicle Account (supports DMV and CHP), professional licensing fees for doctors, nurses, and hair stylists, and transportation funds that come from the gas tax and other separate revenue sources that have restricted uses.

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