California's 51-day budget impasse ended Tuesday when Senate Republicans who had been blocking a spending plan gave up their fight, accepting largely symbolic concessions on a few pet issues, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The $145-billion budget they approved is nearly identical to the bipartisan plan passed by the Assembly on July 20 and endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would increase spending on schools, reduce aid to the elderly and disabled, raise student fees at state universities and delay Los Angeles-area mass transit projects.

More than $1 billion intended for public transportation work, such as widening some freeways and extending the Expo light-rail line, would instead be used to help reduce the multibillion-dollar deficit the state has been carrying for years.

Republicans long ago stated that their objective was to cut state spending, but the absence of significant reductions prompted many in the Capitol to question the point of disrupting state services.

Thousands of medical clinics, child-care facilities, nursing homes and other government contractors have been struggling to make do since payments from the state stopped last month. They will be paid retroactively, but the state will not reimburse interest charges on loans that contractors may have taken to tide them over.

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