Budget crisis drives California to close offices twice a month

California will close most state offices on the first and third Fridays each month starting in February, shutting DMV outlets and state parks while reducing state worker pay to help survive a massive budget problem, according to a state Department of Personnel Administration memo.

Only offices deemed critical, such as state hospitals and prisons, will remain open under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's twice monthly furlough plan. Employees at those state operations will still be required to take two days off each month at different times.

The uniform measure is intended to make the furlough plan more manageable for the state and save money on utilities at state buildings. Unless the state grants waivers to DMV or State Parks, vacationers will face shorter weekend camping trips and drivers will have two fewer days each month to take tests or register their vehicles.

"Certainly shutting down state services for two days a month will have an effect, but we are faced with few options to keep the state solvent," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. "The governor does not want to make these cuts in state programs, he does not want to raise taxes, but we have a responsibility to lead this state through a financial crisis."

The first shutdown would take place Feb. 6, and state workers are expected to stay home that day unless told otherwise. Agency secretaries plan to send memos to employees this afternoon explaining how the changes will be implemented.

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