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LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveils new $7.2B budget

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on ABC7 Eyewitness Newsmakers, Aug. 13, 2009.

April 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his $7.2 billion budget on Friday, one that he says is a balanced, responsible budget.

Highlighting the positive, Villaraigosa showed blown up charts of red, indicating where the city budget had been headed to a $1.1 billion deficit. He followed up with an updated graph showing the current structural deficit projection, which has been reduced to $199 million with the mayor's new budget.

But to get to that number, the mayor has demanded ongoing austerity measures, streamlining and personnel cuts.

"I will be recommending that we cut 669 positions, 231 of them are filled, and so there will be layoffs," said Villaraigosa.

He warned of other painful changes, particularly to the retirement age for city workers. He proposes raising it to 67. He says there must be reductions to pension funds and healthcare for workers.

"30 cents toward retirement benefits for every dollar spent on salaries...We can't continue that going forward," he said.

The mayor says public safety will not be compromised. The fire department will get six new ambulances. A restructured budget will still allow for the hiring of new police officers to replace those who retire.

"Not since Eisenhower was in the White House and Warren was in the state house have we been this safe," he said.

The mayor's budget debate follows a flap over transportation funding. The mayor wants an extension of Measure R, maintaining a 1/2 cent increase to fund transportation projects.

The mayor walked out of an MTA meeting on Thursday after what he says was an offensive remark by County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who demanded timely information.

"To make a timely, wise decision unlike last time which was a gang rape," said Antonovich.

The mayor said Antonovich's reference was obscene.

"It is inappropriate, it is wrong and it is offensive," he said on ABC7's Eyewitness Newsmakers.

The supervisor said on Thursday: "If L.A. City wants a tax to pay for their individual projects, then they should vote to tax themselves without including the rest of the county - who have their own vital transit needs."

The Supervisor has not backed down from the terms he used.

As the debate over Measure R continues, the debate over the city budget is entering a new phase over the next two weeks. The city council's budget and finance committee will be holding hearings.


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