California businesses, labor unions and other interests paid a record $287 million on lobbyists last year to sway lawmakers on decisions for spending taxpayer money and favorable legislation.
The Los Angeles Times reports a record 2,768 entities hired lobbyists, leading to the 6.8 percent increase in lobbyist spending.
The lobbyists and entities that hire them say the budget crisis has forced them to be more aggressive. The California Teachers Association spent the most -- $6.5 million.
Besides seven in-house lobbyists, the teachers union entertained elected officials and their staffs with meals and helped pay travel and lodging costs for hundreds of teachers that converged on Sacramento for a May "week of action'' on the budget crisis.
The lobbying activity is disclosed in quarterly reports to the secretary of state.