Politics

Three days and still no budget agreement in California

California lawmakers adjourned Monday night until Tuesday after failing for the third consecutive day to muster an elusive final vote for the state budget package.

The move came after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would send 20,000 layoff notices on Tuesday and other administration officials warned of construction stoppages if the $40 billion budget shortfall and the associated cash crunch are not resolved.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the Senate would consider the critical tax increase bill on Tuesday morning, whether or not a third Republican senator comes forward to provide the deciding vote. He said the house would stay in session until the package was approved.

"Bring a toothbrush, bring whatever necessities you need to bring," Steinberg told senators as the house shut down for the evening.

The tentative deal would bridge an estimated $40 billion budget gap through a massive mix of program cuts, borrowing and new revenues, including vehicle license fee increases and higher gasoline, sales and personal income taxes.

Key elements require passage by a two-thirds majority of the Senate and Assembly - thus three GOP votes in each house.

The wide-ranging proposal also is designed to stimulate the economy by accelerating some public works projects and giving tax breaks to some businesses.

The spending plan would cover a 16-month period ending in July 2010.

Monday was marked by partisan arm-twisting of GOP Sens. Dave Cox and Abel Maldonado to support the deal, and by announcements of imminent fiscal harm statewide, including:

Plans to send 20,000 layoff warnings to state workers Tuesday.

Shut-down of 276 highway, road, prison, school, flood-control and other projects valued at nearly $4 billion.

Suspension of 98 transportation projects, valued at $1.8 billion, that will cost an estimated $392 million just to halt temporarily.

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