Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced that thrice monthly furloughs, which start today for 144,000 state workers, will be halted when a budget is approved. Otherwise they'll continue as planned on Friday the 20th and the 27th, with an additional floating furlough between now and the end of August.
The state is already well past the July 1 deadline for solidifying a spending plan, and shows no signs of overcoming the logjam.
"We don't have the legal ability to pay certain vendors in the absence of an enacted budget," California Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer told the Huffington Post. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear told the Sacramento Bee the furloughs will stop if a state budget is approved.
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown took the opportunity yesterday to slam Republican leadership, telling KGO radio station, the San Francisco-based affiliate of ABC, that the legislature is holding state workers hostage to its own messy political process.
The governor's announcement comes just after State Controller John Chiang's announcement that California state contractors and vendors could find their paychecks replaced by IOUs in as little as two weeks, as legislative disputes over the state's $19 billion deficit continue to stall the passage of a budget.
"It's not something that we're withholding, we just don't have the legal ability to [pay them]. The legislature has to adopt a budget in order for us to do that," Palmer explained. "And the governor has to sign it obviously."
The governor has not met with state leadership since mid-June, and state leadership has yet to hold a budget talk this month.