Governor threatens lawmakers with layoffs

December 8, 2008 9:48:12 PM PST
The governor is talking layoffs for state workers.

The State Treasurer says financing for infrastructure projects will stop in two weeks unless there's a solution to California's budget crisis.

In a rare joint session of the Assembly and Senate, new and returning lawmakers got the low-down from the state's financial experts on just how dire the state's finances are.

"Budget 101" was meant to move people who have been stubborn about making more cuts or raising taxes to balance the budget.

"The urgency and severity of this crisis requires all of us to act and to act immediately," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

Now, infrastructure projects are on the line. They were one of the few hopes of providing jobs.

In less than ten days California Treasurer Bill Lockyer is set to cut off funding to things like highway improvements to keep the state liquid.

Only a balanced budget will save the day.

"No gimmicks. No phony borrowing. No tooth fairy funding, other cute fantasies on how they're going to get through the year. Just make the tough decisions and get it done," said Lockyer.

But no class is likely to move Republicans on the new taxes issue to raise revenue for the state.

"Not on taxes, but I think it'll also show us opportunities on where we can come together. I'm going to continue to push for the sale of a number of properties: San Quentin, the LA Coliseum," said California Senator Jeff Denham.

While the state is wallowing in a $28 billion deficit over the next 18 months, newly-elected lawmakers got new cars. From $32,000 hybrids to $46,000 Cadillacs, their new rides will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.3 million.

It is a perk included lawmakers' six-figure salaries.

"The California Legislature has the highest-paid members in the country. So they're very well compensated. So I think a threshold question is whether or not they should even get any car allowance or cars at all," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Lawmakers also get their gasoline and maintenance paid for by the state.

To compensate, the Speaker's Office says it will cut the legislatures budget by 10 percent, like it did last year.


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