Under the plan, state lawmakers would cut $15 billion in spending. The rest of the gap would be filled by taking funds from local governments and through various one-time deals and accounting maneuvers, leaving many city and county officials none too pleased.
The deal must still be approved by state legislators, who are expected to vote on it Thursday.
Reportedly, the state will take money in a number of ways from local governments.
Money given to local governments will be cut. School systems will be hurt indirectly via these cuts, as well as other public works projects. The list could go on.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Don Knabe, released a video outlining his concerns about the budget and urging residents to contact their state representatives to vote against the proposed budget.
“Right now the state has already taken close to $260 million from the County of Los Angeles and we could potentially see another cut pushing us to a billion dollars in cuts,” said Knabe in the video.
“What that does is critically impact our ability to deliver local services. Library, sheriff, parks, health, etc.,” said Knabe. “The impact on local government and our services could be dramatic.”
Supervisor Knabe stated that despite the efforts of the Board of Supervisors, they are still being hit hard by the state.
“It’s frustrating to us because we did the right thing,” said Knabe. “We saw property taxes and sales taxes going down and we put money aside. Left to our own control, we could weather this storm. We may not increase anything but we would not make the kind of cuts the state is talking about.”
Furthermore, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn does not believe the budget was fulfilling its intended purpose.
“This budget does not protect jobs. By balancing the budget on the backs of local governments, Los Angeles faces another $250 million deficit,” said Hahn.
With the massive cuts coming from the budget, Hahn stated that basic city services would be hard to meet.
“Already, we are facing severe cuts in city services and have had to resort to furloughs and layoffs. Our city’s residents expect us to pave their streets, trim their trees and keep their neighborhoods safe. With this proposed budget, we will be hard pressed to continue delivering these services,” Hahn said.
Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum had similar sentiments.
“The budget will be a full disaster if passed,” Blum said. “I think they’re going to take redevelopment agency funds which will hurt our downtown efforts.”
Blum said that she doesn’t know how Santa Barbara will deal with all the needed services if the state cuts their funding.
“I don’t now how the state can do all of this legally,” said Blum. “I know that all the people who are on the end of cut services will come to city hall and we won’t have the funds to serve them. You think of the children and disabled and I don’t know how we’ll deal with them.”
Blum made a strong suggestion of how the state should handle their budget woes.
“We probably should have a constitutional convention because the whole system is broken. I’m a democrat and that’s the talk going around,” said Blum. “Put simply, we’re drowning.”
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson stated that the process in creating this budget was flawed.
“This budget was made behind closed doors, and based on our intelligence that we’ve gathered, I would challenge that 90 percent of the legislators won’t know the specifics of their decision on Thursday,” said Carson.
Furthermore, Carson lamented about how the proposed budget cuts will hurt Alameda County.
“On prop 1A alone that that will cost my county $40 million at a minimum,” Carson said. “The $1.7 billion on the gas tax laws will result in a $35 million county cut over a two-year period to our public works dept. That means a major impact on road safety for our citizens.”
Carson believes that due to allegiance to authority in the state legislature, the budget will pass.
“I anticipate that legislators will follow their instructions and pass this budget on Thursday,” Carson said.
San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox felt like the state missed a great opportunity to purse real structural reform.
“The state appears to be balancing their budget on the backs on local governments,” said Cox.
“There is no structural reform so far that I’ve seen in this budget. No efforts to curtail expansion of state government. The basic thrust is to steal $4 billion, $2 billion of which they’re going to have to pay back. It doesn’t solve anything,” said Cox.
Cox further suggested that the state did nothing new in its attempt to solve their economic crisis.
“The budget is pretty ugly for local governments,” Cox said. “This budget is not reform but basically the same deny, delay, defuse and deceive we’ve seen year-in and year-out from the state.”
A letter sent by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to their local legislators concerning the budget can be viewed here.
Kern County Supervisor Ray Watson believes the budget is wrong and will cause his county to make major adjustments.
“I feel that it imposes a big portion of the burden on local government,” Watson said.
“The state backdoored us by leaving state programs in place and by borrowing money through prop 1A and prop 42,” Watson said.
“The only thing we can do is layoff people and we’ve made stiff reductions in our upcoming budget of over 700 people and are debating if we will close a portion of our jail and turn 600 prisoners loose or cut back on moneys we have available for child protection services,” Watson said.
In lieu of the budget, still up for a vote Thursday, Supervisor Watson neglected to give a prediction on their vote.
“I can’t predict the legislature anymore,” Watson said. “They have to reduce expenditures and it should be done in state-wide programs and not by leaving their programs in place and putting the burden on local governments.”
Thursday’s vote will tell if legislatures in Sacramento hear the current cries of state-wide local government officials.
Andrew Carico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org