No Budget, No Refunds, And No Solution In Sight - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

No Budget, No Refunds, And No Solution In Sight

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Drastic times call for drastic measures, and today the state did what it had threatened to do.

Facing a $40 billion budget gap, California is being forced to delay $3.5 billion in payments, including nearly $2 billion in state income tax refunds. Also on hold are $500,000 to state vendors and $280 million to help people with developmental disabilities.

He's trying to stay optimistic, but when John Howard lost his job last month, his first thought was his daughter's health insurance.

"To try to get her medical coverage until I can get another job," he said.

Howard, like most waiting at Social Services in Kearny Mesa, is relying on state money to carry him through the hard times. The problem is, the state is feeling the hurt as well, and its self-imposed budget deadline has come and gone again.

"California has had a delayed budget every year for the past quarter century, but this is uncharted territory. This late of a delay hasn't happened before, so it's all new to us," UCSD associate professor of political science Thad Kousser said.

Kousser says for now, most counties and state schools can carry the burden for the 30-day push, but then what?

"You have seen real cuts passed on to real people and that makes the budget problem real and that puts the pressure on lawmakers of both parties," he said.

So far, the pressure hasn't been enough. State employees will be forced to take unpaid days off at the end of this week, and tax refund checks are being held back for at least a month.

"We're going to see yet another example of the cost of this budget delay becoming real to Californians," Kousser said. "Both the many Californians that work for the state government, but also everyone who's expecting a tax refund."

Californians like Elijah Vigil, who also counts on the state for support.

"All my money goes towards rent and paying our phone bill and all that stuff, so the only money we have for food is the money she gets from Social Services," he said.

And if the delay continues, Vigil and Howard won't be the only ones out of luck.

"I was just one of many that they let go," Howard said.

Kousser is optimistic that the state will reach a budget agreement in the next month. He says he thinks the delay is partly due to the state waiting to see what the federal government does with its bailout.

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