By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — Although a modest deficit will linger into next year, California’s finances are poised for marked improvement as the state reaps the benefits of newly approved taxes and the economy continues to recover, the Legislature’s top budget advisor said Wednesday.

Schools can expect more money eventually, and the state may even start to see surpluses, according to Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, who provides nonpartisan counsel to lawmakers. He said a healthier budget should then allow officials to turn their attention to California’s other chronic financial issues, such as an unstable tax base and an expensive debt burden.

In a report released Wednesday, his office estimates that state officials will need to close a $1.9-billion budget gap in the spending plan they pass next summer, about one-eighth of the problem they faced this year. The gap is smaller than it might have been because state officials, as part of a regular process, recalculated how much tax revenue arrived in recent years, resulting in a $1.4-billion boost.

A big chunk of the remaining deficit is due to the lagging stock price of Facebook, which went public this year. The analyst’s office said there would be $626 million less in tax revenue than expected from the initial public offering. The state also is saving far less from closing redevelopment agencies than officials had projected.

Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown hailed the analyst’s forecast.

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