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Gov: No budget deal, layoffs begin Friday

February 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
California's budget crisis keeps getting deeper. Governor Schwarzenegger's administration says it will begin laying off thousands of state workers if there's no budget deal by Friday.Just days after the first-ever furloughs took effect for California state workers, a bombshell from Governor Schwarzenegger: 20,000 pink slips could go out this Friday if a budget deal isn't reached.

"He has very few resources to act unilaterally, one of which is to do layoffs," said Aaron McLear, press secretary to the governor. "As he has said, this is not his preference, not something he wants to do, but because the legislature has failed to deliver a budget up to this point, we are left with very few choices."

Leaders have been stuck for nearly 100 days on how to address that $42-billion deficit, and each day of the delay, there are consequences.

"We want to do everything we can to avert those [layoff] notices," said state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Senate President pro Tem).

The governor hopes to save $750 million with the layoffs, which are aimed at public employees with the least seniority.

Because of union contracts, the firings can take months after the letters go out.

While the plan is for 20,000 notices it will likely affect half that in actual people because of attrition and transfers. Still, that doesn't ease any worries.

"It's really scary. In this economy, who's safe? Who's safe?" asked state worker Jinnel Thomas.

Hundreds of people employed on public-works projects are even closer to the unemployment line. Because of no budget, the state pulled its funding this week.

"If I lose my job, they should lose theirs," said construction worker John Griffin. "If I don't get paid, they shouldn't get paid."

Democratic leaders are saying they could have a budget vote in the next few days, thus averting state-worker layoff notices from going out.

The layoffs could also be avoided if the public-employee unions agree to save the money some other way, such as eliminating two of the 14 state holidays.


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