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State Assembly Still Stalled

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The California Legislature was scheduled to complete its session today. But lack of agreement on a state budget that is two months overdue hangs over a flurry of action on other bills. One measure approved by the State Senate by a 24 to 13 vote today would give the administration of Democratic Governor Gray Davis more flexibility to raise vehicle license fees. Republicans opposed to the measure said it would be a back-door tax increase, and could triple vehicle licenses fees for a five-year period. Democrats admit the measure is related to the state´s effort to come up with funds to ease a 23 billion dollar revenue shortage. But they say the bill merely clarifies existing law on reimbursement of counties if the state general fund is short of funds. The state Senate approved a 99 billion dollar state budget in late June for the fiscal year that began July first. That measure has been stalled in the Assembly where the majority Democrats need the votes of four Republicans to gain the two-thirds majority necessary for passage.