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Furlough Ruling Could Give Big Boost to Businesses

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 26, 2010
Owner and chef Eric Harnish spent two years to get this piece of prime downtown Sacramento real estate – a roomy corner retail space that’s across from a state building, City Hall and a major downtown office building. But then came the furloughs – and Harnish says his Fog Mountain Café loses 40 percent of its business every Friday.
Harnish: “We picked this location because of all the workers around here, and having so many people get cut – hours of work, days of work – it makes an impact on how many hours my employees get, our income. It adds up at the end of the year.”
Harnish says he’s seen some nearby restaurants close – from a sandwich chain to more upscale places.  So he’s optimistic about the court ruling that could bring customers back on Fridays.
A few blocks away, Victoria Beauty Salon is empty. It’s been around for nearly two decades, but employee Thu Tran says business has plummeted over the last year.
Tran: “Usually Friday is busy day in the weekday, but not anymore.”
She says maybe 70 percent of her customers are state workers – and she hasn’t seen them as often as she used to.
Tran: “Usually, they do every two weeks. Now they do three weeks, a month, sometimes longer than that.”
Still, as Harnish points out, he’s not holding his breath.
Harnish: “To be honest, I’ve got to see it to believe it. Until I see the bodies out there and the business folks again, that’s when I believe that’s going to happen. And I’m sure they feel the same way.”

Still, the latest ruling won’t bring everyone back.  Only a quarter of all state workers are affected, and Governor Schwarzenegger is planning an appeal. On the other hand, the governor’s proposed budget would end all furloughs in June.
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