Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the most overdue state budget in California history Tuesday, skipping the usual fanfare because he said the Legislature’s efforts on the $144.5 billion spending plan were nothing to celebrate.
Nearly a quarter of the way through its fiscal year, the state finally has freed up billions of dollars to pay medical clinics, nursing homes, day care centers and contract vendors. The 85-day impasse stemmed from a partisan legislative standoff over how to close California’s $15.2 billion deficit.
The governor signed the budget bills in his office, rather than the Capitol rotunda where budgets are usually signed.
“Why I didn’t feel like celebrating in the rotunda is that it is inexcusable to have a budget that’s three months late,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s three months late because both of the parties stayed in their ideological corners and refused to come out.”
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
Girls will remain in state custody
Six girls removed from an evangelical compound as part of an investigation into the possible sexual abuse of minors will remain in state custody for the near future, a state official said Tuesday.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services had until Tuesday night to ask the court for permission to keep the children or return them to the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound. State and federal agents raided the compound Saturday looking for evidence that children were being molested.
Department spokeswoman Julie Munsell said she couldn’t comment about the legal process surrounding the girls’ future but said, “If you don’t see kids coming back today, you can assume we’re moving forward in this process.”
Alamo, 74, has denied the abuse allegations and called the raid an attempt to smear him. He has said he believes polygamy is allowed by the Bible and “consent is puberty” when it comes to young girls having sex.
Army overruled on objector status
A federal judge has ordered the Army to grant conscientious objector status and an honorable discharge to a soldier who says he experienced a religious awakening in Iraq.
The ruling supersedes the Army’s decision last year to deny Pfc. Michael Barnes’ request. Barnes had told the Army that his religious experience two years ago left him opposed to war in any form.
U.S. District Judge John Sedwick said military investigators failed to provide “a basis in fact” to support their contention that Barnes’ religious objections were insincere.
Barnes, a 26-year-old native of Portland, said Monday in a statement he was thankful the court found his request was based on his “sincere belief as a Christian.”
Barnes remained in Iraq through the duration of his unit’s 15-month deployment.