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Q & A on the pending California budget

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The state budget deal calls for major cuts in spending -- including reductions in healthcare, transportation, welfare, education and law enforcement services. Times reporter Cara Mia DiMassa answers some of the immediate questions.

What is the effect of this budget deal on education funding?

The budget would make $6 billion in cuts to kindergarten through 12th-grade schools and community colleges. State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said those cuts are to be made by canceling state funding for new textbooks for five years; eliminating a requirement that special-education students pass the high school exit exam to obtain a diploma; and reducing the school-year minimum from 180 days to 175.

Is the state still going to sell its share of the Los Angeles Coliseum?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May budget proposal called for selling the Los Angeles Coliseum and Sports Arena, San Quentin State Prison and fairgrounds in Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties. Under the budget deal reached Monday, only the Orange County Fairgrounds is approved for sale.

What happened to the plan to close state parks?

In his original budget plan, Schwarzenegger proposed closing 220 parks, or 80% of the state park system, to save about $143 million. Under the budget deal struck Monday, about $8 million would be cut from state park funding. That would keep about 88% of funding for parks intact -- and mean that while some parks could close, most would remain open.

Is there any indication in this budget that state workers' furloughs will end?

Yes. At the moment, the furloughing of state workers would end June 30, 2010 -- although it could be renewed or extended.

Is this budget a done deal?

The Legislature could vote on the deal as soon as Thursday. And there is concern among some of the legislative leaders who hammered out the agreement that it could unravel as interest groups catch wind of its contents and pressure rank-and-file legislators to reject it. Some groups and local governments are already preparing lawsuits to challenge the agreement.

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