WASHINGTON -- California Treasurer Kathleen Brown has gone toe to toe with the state's powerful vendor leasing industry over a bill that would give her more authority to organize master equipment-lease financings.

With interest rates as high as 18% on some state vendor lease financings, the treasurer's office estimates that the cash-strapped state could save up to $50 million over five years using master leases that consolidate the piecemeal vendor transactions into pooled, tax-exempt offerings. A bill authorizing her to do so has passed the state Assembly and is pending in the Senate.

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