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Finances appear out of balance

September 02, 2009

Re "Workers pay for furloughs," Aug. 30

I am a person who has also seen his income cut within the last few months, so I understand state worker concerns about furlough days.

What I can't understand is why the couple profiled think that their combined $70,000 salary before furloughs allows them to have a $3,200 monthly mortgage.

Most financial experts recommend that no more than 30% of your total income should go for housing. Using that metric, the maximum mortgage that this couple can afford is about $1,750 per month.

State furloughs have nothing to do with their financial problems.

This is another example of people blaming everyone but themselves for owning homes they can't afford.

David Brewer

El Segundo

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Thank you for writing about the struggles of California state employees who are experiencing furloughs.

I am sure that many people are suffering because of these forced pay cuts.

However, your example of the travails of the family in Chino almost caused me to spit out my tea! Gross annual income of $70,000 with a monthly mortgage payment of $3,200, plus a car loan?

Are you kidding?

While I feel for the family on one level, it is very hard to feel sympathetic for people whose spending is so clearly far beyond their means.

Using an example like this left me fuming about the American obsession with the pursuit of homeownership at all costs, instead of thinking about the topic of your article: The difficulties that state employees are facing, including those whose salary is funded by federal dollars.

Could you not have found another example like Rochelle Johnson to hammer home your main point?

Heather Morrison

Long Beach

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The article mentions several employees who are experiencing financial problems because of the mandatory days off. The numbers just do not add up.

Why do all of your articles blame the governor for the budget cuts?

If the Democrat-controlled Legislature had made the cuts and balanced the budget as it was expected to do, extra cuts would not have been necessary.

I am sure all the people in the paths of our dangerous fires are very happy the governor set money aside to be sure we could handle emergencies like we are experiencing right now.

When we have the next budget shortfall, the governor should probably lay off thousands more workers. Then those jobs would be gone forever, and the workers who remained would not have to take days off.

Rosalie Hines

San Clemente

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Is it possible I read this article incorrectly?

You report that the Schwarzenegger administration has extended its involuntary furlough program to state employees whose salaries are actually paid by the federal government -- and thus whose consequent pay reduction does nothing to ameliorate the state's budget woes.

And the administration justifies that decision on the basis that it would be "discriminating" to limit the pain of furloughs to those employees whose financial sacrifices might actually matter.

Such a patently ridiculous claim would be hilarious if it weren't so cruel. These are people's livelihoods they are dealing with.

It is not "discrimination" to limit furloughs to those employees whose reduced salaries serve the economic purpose of the program, just as it's not "discrimination" to limit incarceration to those who commit crimes.

Kelly McCourt

Laguna Beach

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The reference to the family in Chino in this article is a prime example of what is wrong in a lot of these types of situations.

By my calculations, they were spending more than half their income on their mortgage payment. I would say that, for a family of six, this is living a little above their affordable means, with or without the furloughs.

It is a sad case, but I don't think it's a fault of the state furloughs. Maybe a fault of personal budgeting?

Rob McCollough

Ontario

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Our family also grosses $70,000, and my husband, a state employee who has recently taken a pay cut, is subject to furlough days like the folks mentioned in this article.

However, there is no way that we could ever afford a $3,200 mortgage payment and car payments. We're paying $2,000 a month for our two-bedroom with no car payments -- and even then we're just getting by.

Katie Schwab

Westwood

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