Yes to Shared Sacrifice
responsibility and sacrifice" is the theme of this year's L.A. City budget
proposal from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. That is exactly the right approach to address a $530 million budget
deficit during a serious economic recession. We urge the Coalition of L.A. City Unions to join with city residents
and businesses to meet this challenge.
The Mayor's budget makes good recommendations including trimming department budgets,
consolidating smaller city departments and entering into public-private
partnerships for certain city operations. However, the most controversial City Hall debate brewing internally involves city
workers and the proposals to furlough, increase retirement contributions and
temporarily defer automatic annual salary increases.
The proposal is both fair and reasonable, especially when most of us in the
private sector are making similar – and often much more dramatic – adjustments. Yet it appears that the Mayor and City Council will be in for a fight since the Coalition only wants early retirement
packages, rather than the menu of sensible options proposed in the budget. Unfortunately, early retirement packages will
actually increase city pension costs in the long run.
put the options that the Mayor placed on the table in perspective. As of March, there were 565,000 unemployed
citizens in Los Angeles County, representing 11.2 percent of our workforce. During the past year, 252,000 private-sector
employees have lost their jobs while the public sector added 2,900 jobs. So far, the private sector has borne the
entire burden of shared sacrifice.
hope the Coalition for L.A. City Unions will join their fellow Angelenos in sharing
the "responsibility and the sacrifice" in order to save jobs and right our
listing city ship. That choice would be
in the best interest of city residents as well as city employees. If the structural problems with the city's
budget and pension systems are not resolved, the alternative will be far worse
– mass layoffs, major city service disruptions and a pension bankruptcy.
The city's budget deficit is so
large – expected to exceed $1 billion by 2011 – that elected officials,
taxpayers and city workers can no longer avoid or postpone some very difficult
financial decisions. Government must
innovate to survive this downturn and succeed in the long run. This budget is a good first step that should
be followed by a renewed commitment to business growth and fixing the pension
that's The Business Perspective.
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