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No state budget spells start of layoffs

February 17, 2009 6:56:14 AM PST
With California's economy tanking and layoff notices to thousands of state workers in the mail, the legislature seems no closer to approving a state budget than it was on Monday or a week ago. The budget battle resumed on Tuesday, where state lawmakers are now just one vote away from breaking California's lingering impasse over a new spending plan.

After failing to reach an agreement on a new spending plan over the weekend, state senate leader Darrell Steinberg warned lawmakers to bring their toothbrushes on Tuesday and expect to stay until the impasse is broken.

The new spending plan, with cuts to state programs and tax increases, needs three Republican votes in the state assembly, and three in the senate to pass. The assembly rounded up their three GOP votes, but the senate only has two.

"It's down to one vote. It is down to one vote. The single largest deficit in the state's history, and we need one Republican member of the senate caucus to put their state above ideology," Steinberg said.

The marathon budget deliberations have broken a record for the longest legislative session in state history, but lawmakers barely noticed.

"Each of us is going to have to search our conscience and talk to our constituents and make up our minds," said State Sen. Roy Ashburn, Republican from Bakersfield.

Steinberg called them back for another try on Tuesday morning.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will lay off 10,000 state workers starting Tuesday and shut down 275 more public works projects to save money.

The layoffs are coming in several state departments, including corrections, which runs the prisons and health and human services.

Among the construction projects sidelined are 18 bridges and roads in L.A. County that are being upgraded to better withstand earthquakes.

If a budget isn't passed soon, the state will rapidly begin to run out of money.


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