California prepares to stop paying bills ( Feb. checks replaced with IOUs)

The state of California has run out of money.

Facing a $42 billion budget deficit, State Controller John Chiang told the Sacramento Bee he has already borrowed $21.5 billion to try to cover the state's checks, but by Feb. 1, there will be no more options left but to simply stop paying some of the bills including tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants and other payments owned to California citizens.

"It pains me to pull this trigger," Chiang said at a news conference held in his office. "But it is an action that is critically necessary."

Federal law requires that many school and healthcare programs a total of about $6.6 billion in California must be paid, the Los Angeles Times reports, so Chiang has announced an expected payment freeze on $3.7 billion worth of the state's bills, most of it refunds owed to taxpayers.

But even with the freeze beginning next week, the Times reports, California will still fall $346 million short for the month of February, forcing Chiang to consider something only done once since the Great Depression: issuing IOUs.


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