California lawmakers on Tuesday ended a budget impasse that had dragged on for nearly two months, agreeing to a $145 billion plan that eliminates a persistent deficit and addresses many concerns of holdout Republicans.
The deal ends a stalemate that has lasted more than seven weeks beyond the July 1 start of the fiscal year. At one point last month, the Senate president locked members in the chamber overnight when a budget bill failed to generate enough support.
“I’ll state the obvious: Thank God this is over,” Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, a Democrat, said after the vote. “I’m still perplexed why it took so long.”
The agreement will free up billions of dollars in payments to a variety of social service agencies that rely on state funding, as well as to community colleges and some education programs.
The deal allows the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to move forward on a policy agenda that includes health care changes and a proposal to overhaul California’s massive water-delivery system of reservoirs, pumps and canals.
Three searchers die in plane crash
A Civil Air Patrol plane being used to search for a missing teenager crashed and burned in the Bighorn National Forest, killing the three people aboard, officials said Tuesday.
The plane went down Monday evening and was destroyed by fire, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rescuers reached the remote crash site Tuesday afternoon and recovered the bodies of the crew members, said Jeanne Stone-Hunter, spokeswoman for Civil Air Patrol’s Wyoming Wing.
The pilot of the Cessna 182R last made radio contact with another pilot in the area at about 4 p.m. Monday, according to Stone-Hunter.
A teen, who disappeared Sunday while fishing, was found alive about an hour later.
Graham hasn’t had any more bleeding
Evangelist Billy Graham remained in fair condition Tuesday at a hospital near his mountainside home and hasn’t experienced any more episodes of intestinal bleeding, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Graham, 88, has been hospitalized since experiencing an initial bout of bleeding Saturday. He had a second episode Monday but spent Tuesday visiting with family and friends and taking walks outside his hospital room, said Merrell Gregory, spokeswoman for Mission Health & Hospitals.
The bleeding may have been caused by diverticuli, or small pouches that can form in the lower intestine, hospital officials said. A diverticular bleed often begins suddenly and may stop on its own.
Graham experienced a similar intestinal bleed during his 1995 crusade in Toronto.
Cause of fire under investigation
Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation Tuesday into the blaze that killed two firefighters at a ground zero skyscraper that had a broken water supply system as it was being dismantled.
The defunct standpipe pumped thousands of gallons into the basement, leaving firefighters without enough water to fight the fire that started Saturday on the 17th floor.
“Nobody at this point knows whether that was a contributing factor to the two tragic deaths or not. That’s what an investigation is for,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau and State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said their offices each would investigate the cause of the blaze.