State budget crisis hits home in a new way

February 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The financial crisis at the state level is about to hit home in a new way. Without a budget deal, California government offices will be closed every other Friday starting this week. One of those state services is needed now more than ever.

Outside Campbell's Employment Development Department, or EDD, the signs are already up. Starting Friday, the state-run office that's here to help people find work will be closed, every other Friday, because of the budget crisis.

"It's going to be a challenge for our customers and a challenge for us, we'll just do our best to make the best of it," said Cathy Sargent, an employment program supervisor.

In a time when 9.3-percent of Californians are unemployed and this office has seen a 400-percent increase in traffic recently, the loss of two days couldn't come at a worse time for job seekers.

"It would be nice if the state could impress us in a time like this, rather than let us down and in something like this, you kind of feel like they're letting you down. Actually, they definitely are," said Matthew Heard, an unemployed engineer.

"It's going to get pretty backed up, very backed up and on days that we do have time to come here, there's going to be long lines and long waits and it's really disappointing," said Sharon Villa, an unemployed worker.

The unemployed aren't the only ones disappointed by the goings-on in Sacramento. Right now, only the governor and the top two Democrats and Republicans are involved in budget negotiations. Some rank and file law makers feel shut out of the process.

"My constituents are asking for information and I'm not alone. I'm sure every member of this House who's not in the Big Five, both Assembly and Senate have constituents saying, 'What's going on?'" said Senator Abel Maldanado (R) from Santa Maria.

Still, nothing is quite clear for Chris Cicciarelli. He has a job as an E.D.D. career counselor for young people, but the impending furlough and cut in salary is forcing him to look for part time job openings -- just like everyone else.

"It didn't cross my mind that I would be affected because when working for the state, you assume you're not in the same circle, but you are. It's not really any different. We're all in it together I guess," said Cicciarelli.

The furlough will likely last until June of 2010.