Budget Deficit Threatens 70,000 Jobs


70,000 jobs statewide could vanish.

"The state is saying, as of this week, they can't guarantee the contractors that are working here today are going to get paid," Transportation Commission spokesperson Jim Earp said.

These are projects that Californians approved back in 2006 that could help ease traffic. CalTrans is hoping local governments can front the money to keep the projects going, but they are struggling too.

Most just do not have the reserves.

"California counties are in the same situation the state finds itself in; our revenues are all down," Paul McIntosh, of the State Association of Counties, said.

With no avenues of funding left, workers worry they will have to join the ranks of the unemployed. California's jobless rate is already pushing 10 percent.

Construction worker Arnold Mendoza is concerned he would lose his house. When asked about losing his job he replied, "Yeah. You think I can go find another job? No."

After state leaders worked on a budget deal this weekend they took a holiday break for Lincoln's Birthday.

Senate President Darrell Steinberg thinks they can vote on a compromise this week, but lawmakers have been saying that for more than three months.

Absent a budget deal, California's transportation community has pinned a lot of hope on the passage of President Obama's stimulus package.

Some of that money is for public works projects.

"We've been talking. We're on the edge of the cliff. But, for this industry, we're actually over the cliff. We're just trying to break the fall. Hopefully that federal money will come in," Earp said.

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