State Controller John Chiang announced Friday that his office would suspend tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants and other payments owed to Californians starting Feb. 1, as a result of the state’s cash crisis.
Chiang said he had no choice but to stop making some $3.7 billion in payments in the absence of action by the governor and lawmakers to close the state’s nearly $42-billion budget deficit. More than half of those payments are tax refunds.
“I take this action with great reluctance,” Chiang said at a news conference in his office. But he said that without action to close the deficit, “There is no way to make it through February unscathed.”
Griffin steps down as administrator
NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin, who guided the space agency through one of the most turbulent periods following the Columbia shuttle disaster and the decisions to scrap the shuttle fleet by 2010, bid a somber farewell to the agency’s employees Friday.
Griffin, 59, had submitted his resignation to President-elect Barack Obama along with other agency heads several weeks ago. His apparently was accepted.
Griffin urged workers to support the next administrator. In recent weeks, several names have been floated by the incoming Obama administration, including former astronaut Charles Bolden and retired Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration.
Santa Ana, Calif.
Verdict mixed on former sheriff
A jury acquitted former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona of charges that he took bribes in exchange for the power of his office, a verdict that stunned the courtroom.
Carona was convicted of one witness-tampering count, but the jury rejected the heart of a case that federal prosecutors spent five years assembling against the former head of the nation’s fifth-largest sheriff’s department.
He had been accused of doing favors for a multimillionaire businessman and appointing him assistant sheriff in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts.
If convicted of all counts, Carona could have spent the rest of his life in prison. Instead, he faces up to 20 years, but is likely to get only two or three, prosecutors said.