California Governor Schwarzenegger orders mass layoffs

February 18th, 2009 - 6:47 am ICT by IANS  

Arnold SchwarzeneggerSan Francisco, Feb 18 (DPA) California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued 20,000 layoff notices and halted work on the state’s remaining 276 public projects as intransigent Republican lawmakers continued to stonewall efforts to pass a budget.

The budget impasse prompted legislative leader to hold parliamentarians in their chambers Tuesday until they reached an agreement.

“Bring a toothbrush,” Senate president Darrell Steinberg told legislators as he convened the session Tuesday morning. “I will not allow anyone to go home to resume their lives or any kind of normal business.”

The dramatic action came after emergency measures earlier this month forced the closure of hundreds of state offices for two days a week, the issue of IOU’s instead of tax refunds, and a halt to 5,700 other public works projects.

“In the absence of a budget, the governor has the responsibility to realize savings any way he can,” said Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman.

The impasse has continued since October as the recession forces California to deal with a $42-billion budget deficit over the next two fiscal years.

As the state constitution requires the budget be passed by a two- thirds majority, Republican lawmakers who signed a “no new tax” pledge have effective veto power over the proposal. They have refused to back a plan that calls for $16 billion in spending cuts, $11 billion in borrowing and more than $14 billion in temporary tax hikes.

Reports from the state capital Sacramento said that the marathon efforts over the last week had succeeded in enticing two Republican lawmakers to back the budget proposal supported by Schwarzenegger, the Democrats and the two Republican leaders in the legislature. Efforts were continuing Tuesday to persuade one more Republican to back the budget and give it the required majority.

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