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How to Grow a Bad Budget

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Miguel Santana, L.A.'s new chief administrative officer, brings the grim news about our continuing budget crisis: we are racking up deficit numbers at $350,000 every day.

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More direct from Santana's mouth via a sobering interview with L.A. Downtown News:

When I started there was already a deficit in the budget of over $300 million and within two weeks it became $400 million, and I knew at that point that we would be spending the majority of our time addressing how to reduce that deficit and that's been my focus, working closely with the council and the mayor and our partners in labor. We were actually very successful in doing that. We reduced that $400 million down to $22 million and it took a lot of work and persuasion and concessions from all sides....

What we didn't anticipate is that we'd see such a dramatic drop in revenues on top of what we had already seen....Seeing double-digit drops for four consecutive quarters is something nobody could have ever imagined.

Every day [the deficit grows] about $350,000, which is the equivalent of about four to five different positions that get added to the list of folks we have to eliminate.....

We were surviving on and benefiting from the robust economy that we had for so many years. While we've carried a structural deficit, we were able to address that by added revenue that the economy produced. So now, the only way of addressing the structural problem is by reducing your expenses. Over 90% of our expenditures are on our workforce, so it's impossible without reducing the number of people on the general fund, and so the changes that are being proposed now are all about that....

Santana says that as far as he's concerned, bankruptcy is not an option for the city.

Ron Kaye, as usual, thinks the city is doing it all wrong, and presents a (pretty vague) call for a heads-together solution that neither cuts city jobs nor services nor sells off city properties or functions.

(Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

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