California's Emergency Fire Costs Hit $305M

SACRAMENTO (AP) - The Southern California wildfires are burning a bigger hole in California's budget, adding to the state's $11.2 billion deficit.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's finance director, H.D. Palmer, says the state has spent $305 million on emergency firefighting since the start of the fiscal year July 1. Lawmakers had budgeted only $69 million for those costs.

Palmer says the state will try to get some of the money reimbursed from the federal government, which pays for firefighting on federal land.

But on Tuesday he acknowledged the fire costs will make it even harder to solve the state's budget shortfall. Lawmakers are meeting
in a special session to address the state's fiscal crisis and must take action by the end of the month, when several members will be termed out of office.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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