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Budget impasse forcing state office closures Friday

Scores of state offices — including all DMV outlets — will be closed Friday as officials prepare to implement the first unpaid day off for some 200,000 employees in response to California’s deepening fiscal crisis.

In addition to the DMV, Veterans Affairs offices will be closed. The closures are part of the governor’s furlough program requiring state employees to take two unpaid days off per month, a roughly 9% pay cut, which his office estimates will save about $1.4 billion through June 2010.

Confusion reigns today as officials struggle to figure out which employees should be at work Friday. The governor’s office this morning reversed itself and decided to keep all “one-stop career centers” for job seekers open Friday. Providers of some services — such as agricultural border protection stations and fish and game enforcement -- will take their unpaid days off on a different schedule, and services that generate revenue, such as parks, will remain open. Public safety employees are exempt from the Friday furlough but will take time off other times.

Also today, a judge's ruling on furloughs did not address employees who work for officials elected statewide -- such as the governor, the attorney general, the superintendent of public instruction and the controller. All those officials except the governor have said they would not comply with the furlough order. Workers in the governor's office will work Friday but take a pay cut.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Personnel Administration told the Associated Press today that the situation was in flux.

“A certain amount of confusion is unavoidable, given that this has never been done,” spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said. “We’re doing it under emergency circumstances, and the uncertainty of what’s happening in the Legislature continues to plague all of our planning efforts.”

The Republican governor and the Democratic-dominated Legislature remain at an impasse over how to balance the state’s budget.

-- Jean Merl

Updated at 6:28 p.m.: Public safety employees are exempt from the Friday furlough but will take time off other times.

 
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