State now over $700 million behind revenue target

California fell more than $300 million short of its projected cash revenue for the month of September — and over $700 million short so far this year — according to a report released by the state Controller’s Office Monday.

If revenue targets are not met, the state may make up to $2.5 billion in trigger cuts included in the 2011 budget — $100 million of which could come directly from the university. The state has already reduced the university’s funding by $650 million.

In September, the state took in $301.6 million, or 4 percent, less than anticipated, which means that it is currently $705.5 million, or 3.6 percent, short of its general fund revenue collection goals for this year. In November, officials at the state Department of Finance and the state Legislative Analyst’s Office will make predictions, based on revenue collection to that point, that will determine whether or not the state will enact the trigger cuts.

At this point nothing is certain, according to Caroline Godkin, senior fiscal and policy analyst at the office.

“We’re still in the process of starting our forecast,” she said.

The amount of cuts will be decided by the department on Dec. 15 based on what happens in the coming months.

“It’s always possible that these revenues will be made up,” said Jacob Roper, spokesperson for state Controller John Chiang. “Most (of the revenue) is collected in the second half of the fiscal year.”

Roper said September’s earnings were brought down by low sales tax and corporate tax revenues, the cause of which is yet unknown.

Chiang said in a statement that “September’s revenues alone do not guarantee that triggers will be pulled. But as the largest revenue month before December, these numbers do not paint a hopeful picture.”

Depending on the department’s forecast, the university may lose as much as $100 million in state funding. But even if that happens, UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said that mid-year tuition increases will not be implemented.

“It’s not right,” she said. “Families and students need to budget.”

The university will absorb the funding deficit through asset management, she said — but she added that a tuition increase could still be in the cards for the fall.

“The longer-term solution requires stable, predictable funding from the state,” she said. “Without that … tuition will continue to be on a roller coaster.”

At its September meeting, the UC Board of Regents discussed a plan that could increase student tuition to over $22,000 for the 2015-16 academic year. While the plan is not definite and there is no guarantee it will be voted on at the board’s next meeting, decreased state funding makes tuition hikes more likely. The plan included a mechanism through which student tuition and state funding would rise together. If a state funding increase were not provided, the plan would see a tuition increase to make up for the lack of state funds.

The board is expected to discuss the plan further in November.