Highway workers in California may walk off the job

News July 23, 2003
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As the state of California struggles with a $38 billion budget shortfall, highway contractors are still considering walking off

As the state of California struggles with a $38 billion budget shortfall, highway contractors are still considering walking off job sites if there is no sign of positive movement by the state legislature. California is in its 22nd day without a budget. State payments to contractors working on about 600 transportation-related jobs supposedly ended July 20.


The statewide construction work stoppage will initially cost Caltrans $100 million, plus an additional $30 million once work resumes, according to the Los Angeles Times.


The Federal Highway Administration notified Caltrans last week that it could not use federal money for projects because of the budget impasse. And since state legislators haven't approved a budget, Caltrans cannot touch the $200 million in gas tax collections from last month.


More bad news came from the state capitol early this week when a group of Democrats discussed prolonging the budget fiasco to essentially further their political goals. The 11 lawmakers thought their meeting was private, but a squawk box was on, which transmitted the meeting to hundreds in the capitol building. Republicans who captured the meeting on tape said the 11 talked about holding up the budget to dramatize the consequences and build support for a ballot initiative that would make it easier to raise taxes.


A coalition of local governments in San Bernardino County has offered to lend Caltrans $30 million interest free. The money would come from Measure I, a half-cent sales tax increase dedicated to transportation projects.


For in-depth coverage on the story, read the August issue of ROADS & BRIDGES.

 


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