No progress on $26B shortfall

Negotiations aimed at closing California’s $26.3 billion deficit remain frozen after a top Democratic lawmaker walked away from talks on Monday, July 6.

No formal discussions had been scheduled for Tuesday.

It was not clear when Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat from Los Angeles, will return.

She refused to participate in talks Monday, expressing frustration over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s demands to reform welfare, in-home supportive services and state pensions.

The governor is demanding the Legislature make eligibility and benefit changes to CalWORKS and other social programs as part of closing the state deficit.

Friday marks the last day several major banks will cash IOUs that the state began issuing last week, putting added pressure on the governor and lawmakers to reach a deal.



Cal State pushes furloughs

California State University officials are preparing a plan to furlough 47,000 employees for two days a month to help offset sharp cuts in state funding.

The CSU Board of Trustees is holding a special meeting in Long Beach Tuesday, July 14 to discuss ways to close a projected $584 million budget shortfall for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

CSU officials say the furlough plan would save about $275 million and prevent deeper cuts to college course offerings.

So far, two unions representing 21,000 employees have agreed to negotiate furloughs with the administration.

But the California Faculty Association, which has 23,000 members, wants a guarantee against layoffs before it will agree to furloughs, which would amount to a roughly 10 percent pay cut.



San Rafael cutting back

San Rafael is joining a long list of cities cutting back on services.

In a move to slash $3.2 million to try to balance the city’s budget, the San Rafael City Council on Monday, July 6 unanimously agreed to close most city facilities on the second Monday of every month from July 13 to June of 2010.

With the closures, maintenance work throughout the city will be scaled back.

Police, fire, child care and parking services will remain open.

The reduced workdays come after San Rafael reduced the city’s workforce by 30 positions through vacancies, retirements and outsourcing.

The mayor, members of the City Council and other city officials have also taken 5 percent pay cuts.