SACRAMENTO -- The Legislature's top budget advisor said Friday that California can expect much more tax revenue than Gov. Jerry Brown has estimated.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office projected that the state will receive a bit more than $100 billion in general-fund revenue in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

That's $2.8 billion, or nearly 3%, higher than the Brown administration's estimate of $97.2 billion. The governor had downgraded his estimates since releasing his initial budget proposal in January, saying the economy was not growing fast enough.

The Legislative Analyst's Office said the Brown administration was being too pessimistic, and that California could expect more tax revenue generated by increases in the stock market.

"We do not agree with the administration’s view that there has been a significant dimming of the state’s near-term economic prospects," its report said

The gap between the two estimates is expected to fuel the debate over spending in the Capitol. Democratic lawmakers are eager to restore more funding to safety-net programs than Brown wants.

The higher tax revenue forecast by the Legislative Analyst's Office could help cover programs such as dental care for poor adults, higher reimbursements for doctors under Medi-Cal and better benefits for welfare recipients.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement that he's pleased by the analyst's forecast, calling it "consistent with the revenue estimates we expected." He said the numbers would not be used "as an automatic green light to increase spending."

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