There’s been a great deal of political puffery lately about how the Golden State’s finances have improved. The state government keeps getting described as “flush with cash.” You’d think Sacramento was suddenly beset with gorillas, what with all the chests being thumped.

And that set off a predictable dustup last week over how to spend all this found money. Lawmakers approved a $117.5 billion general-fund budget, but Gov. Jerry Brown declared that a profligate impulse and wants to spend $2.2 billion less.

However, a couple weeks earlier, a report came out that serves as a good reminder of the still-alarming big picture for the state.

Called Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting, the report is by the Volcker Alliance, headed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. The non-partisan alliance aims to keep state budgeters honest.

The report complimented California for improving generally and using better budgeting methods. But it went on to say: “The state is still saddled with $94.5 billion in bond debt supported by tax revenue, and it has amassed another $195 billion in unfunded promises to pay pension and other retiree benefits. … Further, California has a $64.6 billion shortfall in deferred infrastructure maintenance.”

As for the point about deferred infrastructure, the Volcker report cited a 2013 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers that said 11 percent of the bridges in California are considered structurally deficient and close to 17 percent are considered functionally obsolete; 34 percent of the state’s major roads are in poor condition.

All that needs to be paid for. Somehow. Some time. And nobody’s even talking about the massive prison space the state lacks.

Add up the three numbers – the bond debt, unfunded pension and health care liabilities and the deferred infrastructure costs – and you’ll see that the $2.2 billion the legislators were bickering about last week represents 0.6 percent of that amount. Not even a 1 percent down payment on the state’s obligations.

Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at