California revenue for February came in ahead of projections for the third month in a row, Controller John Chiang announced Wednesday.

The month’s receipts were $480 million, or 8.7% above estimates in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2010-11 budget proposal. 

That means taxpayers aren’t likely to see a repeat of 2009, when the controller’s office held on to tax refund checks to help the state get through a cash crunch.

“Given February’s numbers and recent action from the Legislature to improve the state’s cash flow, Californians should expect to receive their hard-earned tax refunds on time,” Chiang said in a statement. “While the worst may be behind us, we still face cash challenges later in the summer absent enactment of further credible and sustainable budget and cash solutions.”

Schwarzenegger’s budget estimates a $19.9 billion general fund shortfall through June 2011. In January he declared a fiscal emergency and a special session of the Legislature to address the shortfall.

In addition to the cash-management bill Chiang referred to, lawmakers passed bills they say will close $4 billion of the general fund deficit.

But Schwarzenegger vetoed one of the bills, saying its $2 billion in spending cuts were illusory.

As of Thursday morning, the governor had yet to act on another bill, which would exchange the state’s sales tax on gasoline for an equivalent excise tax in a maneuver that would free up $1 billion for the general fund.

According to Chiang, California’s cash position was $2.15 billion ahead of projected levels on February 28.

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