Saturday, March 19, 2011

Los Angeles Confronts its Deficit

Tim Cavanaugh at Reason Hit & Run discusses Miguel Santana, the Chief Administrative Officer for Los Angeles and the man charged with closing the city's jaw-dropping $350 million budget deficit. (Note: that's the deficit after the city cut 4,000 employees.) Santana is expected to make public budget recommendations on Monday; Cavanaugh describes his plan as follows:
Interestingly, Santana ranks pension reform last among his four highest-priority items – because pension savings don’t help the city’s dire current finances. His first order of business is to make the city’s reserve fund permanent (“because then we’ll have to make the corresponding cuts”); the second is to reduce discretionary services and focus on core services; and third is to bring in more private contractors.
We expect the second and third priorities, especially, to go over like a fart in a car among LA politicos. Yet one proposed cut that Cavanaugh focuses on illustrates the problem of spending sanity there: $7 million for school crossing guards. Seriously; the city of Los Angeles spends $7 million in salary, benefits and pension for a service that was performed free of charge and perfectly well by students or parent volunteers when we were growing up. And yet the city taxpayers hoping to see this spending cut will be relying on Antonio Villaraigosa's political courage

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