Furloughs mean longer waits at open offices


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There is nowhere more visibly impacted by the three-days-a-month /*furloughs*/ than the DMV. It is so packed at this Sacramento office, people can be found waiting outside.

"I might have to leave before they call my number, so I don't know if it's worth it, if I should just leave now," DMV Customer Lisa Magley.

Average wait times, before the furloughs, were 20 to 30 minutes without appointments. Now some of the busier field offices are hitting the two hour mark.

Daly City walk-ins, for example, waited almost two-and-a-half hours during lunch Tuesday. In El Cajon, the wait time was two hours and 17 minutes. Santa Monica's was two hours, 13 minutes, while it was two hours in Van Nuys.

Over at the California Medical Board, applications to practice medicine are backing up. Initial reviews are taking almost six month, instead of two because of the furloughs.

The delays do not help ease the state's doctor shortage.

"To some people it may be paperwork; in the end, the purpose is to protect the citizens of California, to be sure that your doctor has all of the credentials they need, verified and they can safely practice medicine here in the state of California," California Medical Association spokesperson Dr. Richard Pan said.

The state is also losing money because furloughed workers cannot enforce tax laws.

The Franchise Tax Board says it will miss out on nearly $700 million in taxes that will not get collected. But the state budget the Governor signed this summer relies on these furloughs to help cut over $1 billion in state spending during this financial crisis.

"Three furlough days is going to have an effect on state services, but we can only spend the money we have and the Governor believes we need to cut back just like every family and business is doing in California," Schwarzenegger's Press Secretary Aaron McLear said.

The furloughs are in effect until June of next year. Public employee unions, though, are trying to get judges to overturn the Governor's order. One lawsuit, for a specific category of state workers, has already been successful.

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