Calif. ties record for longest budget impasse

SACRAMENTO Democrats refuse to cut social services any deeper, and Republicans refuse to raise taxes to pay for them. It's the typical budget dance that's making a lot of people anxious.

Social worker Anyania Muse is one of the latest casualties of no state budget. The Oakland resident just got a layoff notice. At the end of the month, she can no longer help mothers receiving welfare find jobs.

"I'm most worried about my monthly bills, rent," said Muse. "I have children. So I have a family. I'm not just providing for myself."

It's day 78 of the budget impasse. With no compromise in sight, this year will be the latest the California Legislature will have gone without approving a budget, breaking the old record of September 16.

Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) feels the pressure.

"The people have every right to be upset about it," said Steinberg. "And I know I am a participant, and a part of it. I can only say to you I'm frustrated, embarrassed, and hopefully over the next day or two, we'll actually get this thing locked up."

The state has already missed more than $3 billion in payments since July 1.

Among the impacts:

  • At least 25 child care centers have closed
  • 800 community health clinics are unfunded
  • $540 million in Cal Grants hasn't been dispersed to college students
  • The state missed $80 million in office space rent payments
  • "In the month of September alone, if we continue to go the entire month without a budget, another $3 billion won't go out the door to people who provide food for prisons, and some medical services. These are mostly small businesses that are operating for the state of /*California*/'s benefit, providing a service, but they're not being paid for it," said Jacob Roper, a state controller spokesperson.

    With the credit markets still tight and savings dwindling, places the poor rely on are barely hanging on.

    At Robertson Adult Health Day Care, the state owes it $120,000.

    "If the state doesn't pass a budget in the next few days, I don't see how I can keep it open. Bank accounts are overdrawn all the time. It's frustrating," said Medi-Cal provider Jim MacDonald. "There comes a point where you say, 'Enough is enough.'"

    "Get the budget passed," said Anyania Muse. "And get it passed fairly and get it done soon."

    Now that Governor Schwarzenegger is back from Asia, negotiations should pick up. The state, though, will likely let another $3 billion in bills lapse this month.

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