SAN MATEO, Calif. -- A bank affiliated with Franklin Resources Inc., the mutual fund group, is offering relief to California state employees who are being paid with IOUs during a prolonged budget crisis.

Franklin Bank said it temporarily reduced state employees' Visa card rates to 7%, effective last Thursday. Franklin's standard classic Visa card charges 16.9%; the gold card, 15.9%; and a no-annual-fee card, 19.8%.

In addition, Franklin will not require state employees to make card payments during the budget crisis. The policy will be reviewed after three months if there is still no state budget.

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