Budget causes CA offices to shut down

SACRAMENTO The lines are already too long at some /*California DMV*/ offices. Last year, field offices processed more than 29 million in-person transactions. Closing them two Fridays per month, beginning in February, would likely make waits longer.

"There's other things people have to take care of in life. Standing in DMV lines or waiting at the DMV just isn't it," said Donyea Elmore, a DMV customer.

Customers have already seen Saturday hours eliminated at the DMV because of the budget crisis. Californians would also feel the two-day shutdowns when they call the unemployment benefits helpline.

Businesses, like local nail salons, would likely get less attention. They would be subjected to fewer inspections when inspector work days are cut.

It's Day 68 of the budget stalemate, and furloughs would save the state more than $1 billion. The cash is expected to run out soon.

"We can't afford to pay our bills in a few weeks. The governor has a responsibility to lead us through this crisis, to make difficult decisions. He doesn't want to furlough state workers twice a month," said /*Aaron McLear*/, /*Governor Schwarzenegger*/'s press secretary.

From groundskeepers to top executives, the net effect to state workers is a 10-percent pay cut. Bill Silva has already asked his mortgage company for help.

"Now what do I do? I'm under a couple of hundred dollars every month ... And there's not much they can do because I'm not in trouble yet," said Bill Silva, a CalTrans geologist.

Legislative leaders met again with the governor. Their meeting only lasted a few hours, which is a good sign. For the first time, there's consensus to attack the colossal deficit at once.

"We're trying to solve the $41-billion problem at one time here. We're all in agreement that that kind of approach makes sense," said /*State Senator Darrell Steinberg*/ (D-Senate President).

The public employees unions have a hearing on Jan. 29, challenging the legality of the furloughs. So only the courts or a budget agreement could stop state government from shutting down every first and third Friday.



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