Calif. hit with $11.7M in late fees

July 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM

SACRAMENTO, July 28 (UPI) -- Anyone who has been late with a credit card payment can sympathize with the $11.7 million in late fees California racked up in fiscal 2011.

That single year accounted for more than one-third of the fees the state was hit with between 2004 and 2011, The Bay Citizen reported. The figures come from the state's Department of General Services.

Eric Lamoureux, a spokesman for the department, said some departments were late with payments because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and the Democrats in the Legislature missed the budget deadline by 100 days.

Late budgets aren't the only reason for late payments. The Corrections Department's inmate medical services made a lot of late payments a few years ago because of a federal receivership, which cost it many of its accountants.

Jessica Levinson, who teaches at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that especially when California is having so much trouble balancing its budget state officials should try harder to avoid penalties.

"When you are using the taxpayers' money, there is a responsibility to act with reasonable care," Levinson said. "It is really inappropriate to be tardy in paying bills when it's costing so much in late fees."

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