California budget impasse becomes longest ever

September 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
State lawmakers are distinguishing themselves, but not in a way that is terribly flattering. A new record, 78 days without a budget in place and their foot-dragging is hurting a lot people who are depending on them to make a deal.

"This is just one more blow," said social worker Anyania Muse.

Muse is one of the latest casualties of no state budget. The Oakland resident just got a layoff notice and at the end of the month, she can no longer help welfare moms find jobs.

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

It is "Day 78" of the budget impasse. With no compromise in sight, this year will be the latest the Legislature will have gone without approving a budget -- breaking the old record of Sept. 16.

Democratic Sen. Pres. Darrell Steinberg feels the pressure.

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

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 haven't been dispersed to college students
  • The state missed $80 million in office space rent payments

With the credit markets still tight and savings dwindling, places the poor rely on are barely hanging on. At the 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. My bank accounts are overdrawn all the time and it's frustrating," said Medi-Cal provider Jim MacDonald. "There comes a point where you say, 'OK, enough is enough.'"

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

Now that Gov. Arnold 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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