Nation Digest

Nation Digest: Schwarzenegger Announces Deal to Balance California Budget

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Governor Announces Deal to Balance Budget

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and top lawmakers reached agreement Monday to close a $26.3 billion deficit to balance the state's budget, in a deal that includes $15 billion in spending cuts, they said.

California's government began its fiscal year on July 1 facing a huge shortfall due to a plunge in revenues caused by the recession and rising unemployment.

Schwarzenegger said during a news conference that the budget would introduce no tax increases. The Legislature's top Democrats and Republicans said they would brief lawmakers on the agreement in the hope of holding votes in the Democratic-controlled state Assembly and Senate Thursday.

Democratic leaders acknowledged the budget agreement contained painful spending cuts in popular programs, the result of mounting financial woes for California's government since 2007.

"There isn't a whole lot of good news in this budget," said Senate President Darrell Steinberg.

-- Reuters


Interior Secretary Halts Mineral Claims

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered a "timeout" for mining companies staking claims to uranium deposits on federal lands in northern Arizona, saying he wants to determine how the mining might affect the nearby Grand Canyon.

Salazar's order affects nearly 1 million acres of high-desert land owned by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. About 10,600 claims have been made in the area under a 137-year-old law that allows prospective miners to claim mineral deposits they find on federal lands.

The order would not allow new claims to be made for two years. It does not affect the existing claims -- most of which are inactive, a BLM official said.

-- David A. Fahrenthold


Reward Offered for Tips on Drug Suspects

The State Department offered up to $50 million for information leading to the arrests of 10 top Mexican drug suspects.

The only name on an indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn was Miguel Trevino-Morales, a fugitive charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise, international cocaine distribution and firearms violations. The indictment also sought the forfeiture of $1 billion in drug proceeds.

U.S. Attorney Benton J. Campbell said in a release that Trevino-Morales was the principal leader of Los Zetas, a group that includes former Mexican military who went into the drug-smuggling business.

-- Associated Press

Ensign Payments Referred to FBI: The Justice Department told an advocacy group that the FBI would determine whether an investigation of Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) payments to a former mistress is warranted. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had asked the department to investigate whether severance payments made to former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton should have been reported to the Federal Election Commission. The group contends that Ensign must report such payments.

New Orleans Wants Census Adjustment: New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin wants the city's count of residents in the upcoming U.S. Census to include those displaced by Hurricane Katrina but still planning to return to the city. Demographers estimate that about 75 percent of the city's pre-storm population of about 454,000 people has returned. Census spokesman Michael Cook said Monday that there are no plans for a special accommodation.

-- From News Services

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