Thursday, March 04, 2010


Here's what you get when Republican obstructionists in the California legislature manage to stymie any attempt at balancing the budget by raising taxes or fees:

Pink slips will soon be on their way to Los Angeles city workers now that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his general managers have finalized the first list of 542 positions slated for elimination. ...

The initial list includes the elimination of 89 child-care workers in the parks department, more than 100 messengers, clerks and librarians in the library department, and about 50 tree surgeons in the bureau of street services (some of whom may move to the Department of Water and Power). ...

Many of those job eliminations won’t happen until July 1, however, because the workers are protected by an agreement struck last year between city leaders and the Coalition of L.A. City Unions. In the next few months, the most vulnerable workers are those who are not represented by any union or employees who are part of the Engineer and Architects Assn. ...

...Flipping through the thick document on the council floor, Councilman Bill Rosendahl questioned the logic of the list drawn up by general managers and the mayor’s staff.

“Are these the right jobs to eliminate especially if we want our trees trimmed, our parks open, our libraries going, or is there is another strategy within the department that can be used?” Rosendahl said. “It definitely means a cutback in services.”
[Emphasis added]

Five hundred employees in a city the size of Los Angeles doesn't sound so awful, but this is just the first wave of layoffs. Thousands more layoffs are projected over the coming months as the city tries desperately to confront the huge budget deficit that has been partially caused by the reduced revenues cities everywhere face because of the recession. California cities, however, face an additional complication. The state government has dramatically reduced the flow of state money returned to the cities because of the state's budget problems.

The logical answer to the state and local government shortfalls would be to raise taxes and fees (if only on a temporary basis), something that Ronald Reagan did when he was governor. That option is off the table, however. GOP state legislators have taken an oath against such an approach. They are the minority party in the state, but because of a state constitutional provision added by way of a proposition approved by the electorate during the fat years, raising taxes requires a "super majority", something the Democrats don't have.

So in Los Angeles there will be a reduction in services. Libraries will close or operate with reduced hours, trees won't get trimmed and large branches will fall during the first Santa Ana windstorm. Families with both parents working will lose childcare, so one will have to stay home. And that's just the from the first round of layoffs.

I know one thing: I don't envy the next governor. He or she will inherit a state that's in as bad a shape as the country was when President Obama when he was sworn in.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just have a quick question for you but couldn't find an email so had to resort to this. I am a progressive blogger and the owner of the mahablog. Please email me back at when you get a chance. Thanks.


8:05 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home