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Barring a miracle, California lawmakers will miss their June 15 deadline for passing a balanced budget -- a staggering challenge with the state facing a $24.3 billion shortfall amid the worst drop in state revenues since the Great Depression.


Observers of the most populous U.S. state's political scene laugh at the idea of a budget deal by Monday.

"It's about as likely as me being named MVP of the Stanley Cup final," said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

Lawmakers have in prior years routinely disregarded the deadline. How their two chambers are looking to solve the current budget mess point to another blown deadline.

Democrats who control the legislature are not on the same page on how to fill the budget gap, though they dislike Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan, especially its proposal to eliminate the state's welfare system.

He also has proposed filling the gaping budget hole for the fiscal year beginning on July 1 with steep spending cuts, layoffs and furloughs of state employees.

Citing the state's weak economy and double-digit unemployment rate, the movie star-turned politician has ruled out new taxes, which has raised his standing with the legislature's unruly and anti-tax Republican minority.


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