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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger officials confirmed yesterday that the governor planned to commute the sentences of only about 850 illegal immigrant inmates between now and June 2011, saving only $19 million.

Schwarzenegger previously included that assumption in his January budget, and a Department of Finance official told the Senate Budget Committee this month that the governor had no plans to achieve anywhere near the $182 million in savings he had estimated last year. After reviewing the illegal immigrant prison population last fall, the Schwarzenegger administration determined it could only save about $19 million this year and next.

Even so, Democrats persisted in using last year's $182 million savings in the package of budget bills the Legislature sent Monday to the governor. Democrats said yesterday and in committee that they thought they should hold the governor to last year's number, despite indications he will come nowhere near that savings. The governor, not the Legislature, has authority over most illegal immigrant commutations.


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