MODESTO, Calif. -- Vacant storefronts, abandoned homes and shuttered schools tell the story of the economy in the Northern San Joaquin Valley: This is the new normal.
People are beginning to look at the 3-year-old economic downturn as a permanent condition rather than a storm to be weathered.
Modesto is looking at $8 million in cuts this year from its $106 million general fund, the money that pays for essential services such as police, fire and parks, Mayor Jim Ridenour said. That number is down from the city's $130 million general fund of its 2006-07 budget year.
School districts around the region are feeling the pain, as well, with declining enrollment and the steep drop in tax revenues leading to layoffs, pay cuts and campus closures.