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Senate Republicans ax foster-care bill, citing budget woes

Senate Republicans on Thursday killed a foster-care bill they said would have continued unchecked state spending.

Senators voted along partisan lines, 23-13, failing to receive the necessary two-thirds vote.

Republicans said the Legislature needs to contain automatic growth in programs, which they say has helped drive up the state's deficit.

"We have a huge budget problem," said Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster.

Assembly Bill 845 would have appropriated $10.5 million for county welfare departments to operate approximately 700 beds for former foster care youth between the ages of 18 and 24. The cost could grow to as much as $30 million to $40 million, Republicans said.

Supporters countered that former foster youth need more help in making the transition from foster care to adult independence. Democrats said Republicans shouldn't use some of the most vulnerable children in the state to make a statement about the budget.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, called it a matter of "compassion and decency."

The new fiscal year begins Sunday, and party leaders agree they are not close to a budget deal.

The Bee's Judy Lin can be reached at (916) 321-1115 or jlin@sacbee.com.

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