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California legislators pass plan to balance state budget

People protest the decision to shut down San Francisco’s Southeast Mission Geriatric center because of budget cuts.

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People protest the decision to shut down San Francisco’s Southeast Mission Geriatric center because of budget cuts.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lawmakers on Friday approved a complex package of spending cuts, local government raids and accounting maneuvers to fill California's gigantic budget deficit, providing hope that the state might begin a slow climb out of a deep financial hole.

The legislative package of about 30 bills, with final passage coming in the Assembly in the afternoon after an all-night session, was similar to the deal announced this week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders from both parties.

But the Assembly rejected two of the most controversial measures, a plan to take about $1 billion in transportation funding from local governments and one allowing oil drilling off the California coast for the first time in 40 years. That would have brought in $100 million this fiscal year.

The loss of $1.1 billion from the budget package means Schwarzenegger will have to use his authority to make even deeper cuts to close the gap.

But the Assembly cuts do not appear to be deal-breakers. The Republican governor posted a Twitter update after the vote: "Budget passed. Thanks to the legislature for the hard work last night and today. Plan to sign next week."

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, thanked members for their days of hard work and said by the time the vote took place, "I don't even remember if it's afternoon, evening or night."

At a news conference after the vote, she said the Assembly would work with the governor's office when lawmakers return in August to find ways to make up the lost revenue.

On whether the problem is solved: "We do not exactly know where the economy is going right now."

California legislators pass plan to balance state budget 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 10:03pm]
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