You may have seen the photo above in today's LA Times with the governor pointing to a $21.5 billion "surplus" during his May Revise news conference. Yours truly has no doubt that by some definition of "surplus," you can arrive at such a figure. But to most people, "surplus" means more money comes in than goes out during the budget year, thus raising total reserves by the difference. As we showed yesterday, using the governor's figures, total reserves in fact drop by $648 million to $1 billion (depending on how K-12 reserves are treated), a deficit.* News reports have nonetheless picked up the "surplus" theme without questioning where the number comes from, how it is defined, or how it can be squared with the governor's own figures and common parlance.
Of course, taking note of this discrepancy is raining on the parade, which everyone hates.