Questions remain on state plan

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By ERIN MAYES and The Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may be sending mixed messages to some county and city officials.

Just a few weeks ago Schwarzenegger used emergency powers to ensure money would continue to flow to local governments after he cut car tax revenues.

But now he's calling for $1.3 billion in property taxes to be taken from cities and counties to balance the $99.1 billion state budget, released Friday.

How this will affect Calaveras and Tuolumne counties remains unclear, because officials from each said they need time to review the governor's budget before they can comment on it.

Tuolumne County supervisors last week held off on approving more furlough days for county employees three days that all non-emergency workers would take off unpaid to help make up for $3.6 million lost from the reduction in vehicle license fees.

County Administrator Brent Wallace at last week's board meeting even said supervisors might cancel a furlough day that has already been approved for Friday. Between 600 and 700 employees took one furlough day, Dec. 26.

It's unknown whether the loss in property taxes will prove too large a hit for the county and whether administrators will keep this Friday's furlough day as well as enact the three others. Also, Wallace had considered "technical layoffs" employees would not actually be laid off but would have to take several unpaid days off, such as every Friday for 10 weeks. Whether he will ask supervisors to consider this option to save Tuolumne County money is unclear.

Local governments aren't the only institutions bearing the burden of the state's $12.6 billion deficit.

The biggest cuts are aimed at the state's Medi-Cal program, which would lose close to $900 million next year. The state's program to bring welfare recipients into the work force is also targeted to lose $800 million.

Public health cuts includes caps on enrollments for the state's health insurance program for the poor and elderly. The governor also called for the elimination of some medical benefits for the poor and disabled.

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