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Furloughs impacting vital state services

September 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The governor's plan to furlough state employees is designed to save money. But Sacramento Bureau Chief Nannette Miranda says it's also having a serious impact on some vital state services.The DMV seems to be impacted tremendously by the furloughs.

DMV customer Lisa Magley waited hours outside the Sacramento DMV.

"I might have to leave before they call my number," said Magley. "So I don't know if it's worth it if I should just leave now."

Average wait times, before the furloughs, were 20 to 30 minutes without appointments. Now some of the busier field offices are hitting the two hour mark.

Daly City walk-ins, for example, waited almost two-and-a-half hours during lunch on Tuesday. In El Cajon, the wait time was two hours and 17 minutes. In Santa Monica, customers found themselves waiting about two hours and 13 minutes. In Van Nuys customers were able to get service in two hours.

Over at the California Medical Board, applications to practice medicine are backing up. Initial reviews are taking almost six months, instead of two because of the furloughs. The delays don't help ease the state's doctor shortage.

"To some people it may be paperwork," said Dr. Richard Pan from the California Medical Association. "In the end, the purpose is to protect the citizens of California, to be sure that your doctor has all of the credentials they need, verified and they can safely practice medicine here in the state of California."

The state is also losing money because furloughed workers can't enforce tax laws. The Franchise Tax Board says it'll miss out on nearly $700 million in taxes that won't get collected.

But the state budget the governor signed this summer relies on these furloughs to help cut over a billion dollars in state spending during this financial crisis.

"Three furlough days is going to have an effect on state services," said the governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear. "But we can only spend the money we have and the governor believes we need to cut back just like every family and business is doing in California."

The furloughs are in effect until June of next year. Public employee unions are trying to get judges to overturn the governor's order. One lawsuit, for a specific category of state workers, has already been successful.

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