Having lived in California for nearly three decades, sooner or later, there always seemed to be another good sized financial bubble of some kind that would come along to bolster the state Treasury's coffers and allow the folks in Sacramento to continue to spend lavishly.
This worked well for decades, through multiple property bubbles and, of course, the internet bubble that burst in spectacular fashion in 2000 after tech titans had sent billions in new taxes eastward from Silicon Valley.
Since the most recent real estate bubble met its pin five or six years ago, the state has been struggling to make ends meet and, given the recent fervor over social networking and the public offering for Facebook shares, elected officials were probably breathing a little bit easier this spring thinking that a Facebook tax windfall would again arrive to help square the budget – in fact, they were counting on it.
But, a funny thing happened – Facebook shares have lost nearly half their value since their disastrous IPO a couple months ago and, all of a sudden, Sacramento policymakers are scrambling to adjust their assumptions about revenues for the fiscal year.
This policymic report provides the pertinent details:
The Facebook IPO Disaster Could Take Down the Entire California Economy
Facebook hit a low point in trading yesterday, dipping under the $20 mark midway through the day and then settling just above $20 by closing bell. As institutional investors dump Facebook from their portfolios and Facebook's executive team continues to bolt, speculators are wondering if the Facebook contagion will spread.
Had Facebook performed as anticipated, millions of dollars in capital gains taxes would have been generated for numerous states with state income taxes, including California. With the constant downturns in share prices, Californians are left with the question, "Will we be able to fill the gap?"
California's Department of Finance used anticipated Facebook returns in the overall budget projections, with the assumption that California would receive $1.9 billion during the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 fiscal years from the IPO and taxable income that would follow; $1.5 billion comes from the existing tax rates and $400 million is based on an assumption that voters will approve Proposition 30 in the November election.
Not surprisingly, policymakers in Sacramento were expecting Facebook shares to rise from their $38 IPO price between the time that the shares were issued until insiders could cash in theirs later in the year. Instead, shares have tumbled to just above $20.