The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 16, 2009
State prepares to shut down highway, flood-control projects
Update: Turn to the California Channel (Channel 2 on Comcast) to watch lawmakers debate this issue right now. (7:58 pm).

Schwarzenegger officials told lawmakers today that, without a budget resolution by tomorrow, they will be forced to suspend 276 public works projects statewide with an estimated value of $3.8 billion.

Finance Director Mike Genest and Caltrans Director Will Kempton told a senate subcommittee that the state is running out of cash to pay contractors.

Several projects in the Sacramento area could be suspended -- including HOV lanes on I-80 in Solano County and on U.S. 50 in El Dorado County, worth tens of billions of dollars. Also at risk, say officials, are levee improvements in Sutter County. You can find the full list here at PMIB Project Shut down - suspend list.pdf

Republicans at the hearing seemed unimpressed by projections that the shutdowns could affect roughly 90,000 jobs in California. One GOP Senator, Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta, said a sales tax increase proposed to close the $40 billion budget gap could cost 50,000 jobs, an estimate from a Board of Equalization economist.

Shutting down the projects will not be cheap. Kempton said it would cost about $190 million for contractors to "button up" projects they have already started -- securing equipment, filling holes, etc.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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