In measuring the most recent revenue projections for California, the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst's Office looked at a three year period. The LAO projected revenues to be $3.2 billion higher than Finance did.
Sacramento State University Political Scientist Steve Boilard says that's still relatively close. But he says the LAO's numbers are likely a bit more reliable, since the Department of Finance ultimately reports to the governor.
"And the governor's budget proposal is, hey, let's not go out and spend a lot of money," Boilard says. "So I think being able to diminish the size of this surplus is part of the motivation, perhaps, in having that smaller number."
While their projections are different, Boilard says both organizations are pushing the message that cautious spending is the way to go.