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State Budget Could Come Friday

Democratic leaders say they are closing in on a budget agreement that could come as soon as Friday.

The optimism came after Governor Schwarzenegger used a lunchtime crowd at a suburban restaurant as a setting to scold lawmakers on the slow pace of budget negotiations.

Negotiators have said for weeks that the two sides are separated by only a handful of issues.

The list includes more money for state universities, health care programs and pension reform.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles said he is confident an agreement will be reached this weekend.

If so, the state would begin the new fiscal year July first with an approved budget for the first time in four years.