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California to Sue... California

by Susannah Kopecky, published

Thirty California counties were mad as hell last week, and vowed that they wouldn't take it anymore.

After California legislators were unable to come together last weekend to fix the epic failure that is our budget crisis, no definitive deal was struck until Thursday. But before that, threats were made.

Thirty counties in California said they were ready to sue the state, if local payments are stopped to such state-funded programs as healthcare and other social programs. As a result of the state's financial predicament, it has been estimated that withholding of state payments will take away hundreds of millions of dollars in expected funding to local counties.

San Diego, Sacramento (both of which are being identified as the instigators of this suit), Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Kern, Medical, Solano and Lake counties: just some of the counties that were threatening to sue the state for millions of dollars for local funding programs.

The lawsuit put the blame on a number of parties, including financial guru for the state, John Chiang. As State Controller, Chiang tried to reason with the counties threatening to sue over the possibility of not receiving state funds for local works, noting that he "share the frustration of county supervisors throughout the state," and is also "angry that we have been put in the situation of having to delay payments that go to critical services for our most vulnerable residents."

California faces a $42 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year. Lawmakers have been asked to confront the problem and solve it, and solve it now, but they continued to drag their feet. Some suggestions for financing the towering deficit included a temporary tax increase, a sales tax increase, and shelving construction and certain infrastructure projects for the time being. Some of the official numbers include a suggested raise of $15.1 billion in cuts to current spending projects, obtaining more than $11 billion through loans and raising $14.4 billion, ostensibly through the proposed tax increases. On top of this, it was also announced by Sunday (the day after Valentine's Day of course) that the Governator may also be lessening the effect of the mandatory state employee furloughs, as it was reported that in a deal with the large union, the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, employees may only have to take off one unpaid day per month, rather than two. Isn't that a little like nitpicking in the middle of a storm?

The counties may keep threatening to sue, but keep in mind that a solvent government is more likely to actually pay.

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