California’s massive budget surplus highlights gaping income divide

SACRAMENTO — The continued prosperity of California’s richest taxpayers is filling state coffers with a $97.5 billion surplus, bringing the state’s next budget to a record $300 billion, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.

It’s California’s largest budget and biggest surplus ever.

“No other state in American history has ever experienced a surplus as large as this,” Newsom said at a press conference in downtown Sacramento.

The surplus highlights the chasm between the rich and poor in California, which is both the nation’s wealthiest state and home to the highest share of residents living in poverty. The state taxes its richest residents and businesses heavily, meaning their prosperity through the pandemic has filled state coffers to the brim, even as millions of Californians struggle to afford groceries and gas as inflation drives prices up.

Newsom said he sees the high revenue not as a sign taxes should be lowered, but as evidence of that divides.

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