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VNC Town Hall on California Budget Crisis

Venice Neighborhood Council to Hold Town Hall on California Budget Crisis

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Eleven Westside Neighborhood Councils will invite their communities to a Town Hall planned by the Venice Neighborhood Council on February 26th at 6:30pm to discuss the budget crisis facing State, County and City governments. The Town Hall will feature State Assembly Member Ted Lieu, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Council Member Wendy Greuel and will be moderated by KPCC Special Correspondent Kitty Felde. The event will be held at Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.

Bringing California’s government budgets back into balance will have a dramatic effect on the Westside… and it won’t be good. Services will be cut. Aid to education will go down. Taxes will go up.

The impacts are coming at us – and the Town Hall Meeting will be a great opportunity to understand them and their sources. Ted Lieu is a member of the leadership team in the State Assembly and has been closely involved in preparing the new State budget. Zev Yaroslavsky will talk about the measures the County has been forced to take to cope with drastic reductions in revenues and cash flow and its plans to deal with continued pressure. As a member of the City’s Budget Committee, Wendy Greuel will discuss the City’s response and how we will be affected.

How bad is it? The state has laid off 20,000 more workers and halted all state funded public works projects, putting billions of dollars in state contracts on hold. These are just the latest signs of the dramatic decreases in state revenues brought on by the recession, decreases that have opened a 42 billion dollar hole in the budget.

And the fix is illusive. The State Senate has been debating a plan that chops 15 billion dollars in spending, adds 14 billion in taxes and borrows 11 billion. The proposed cuts to education, health care, transportation and housing will affect every Californian, and so will the increased sales, gas, and vehicle registrations taxes. Click HERE for details of the proposed budget as it stood before debate started in the State Senate.

LA County government receives 23% of its budget from the state (click HERE for charts) and has already been severely impacted by delays in funding as the state runs out of money. To make matters worse, another 21% of the County’s revenues come from property taxes… and collections are going down. Foreclosed homes selling at 60% to 70% of their pre-bust value reduce property taxes – and, due to Prop 13 limitations, it will be years before property tax revenues recover.

LA City government only receives 8% of its total revenues from State and Federal sources. So the State’s budget problems don’t have much impact. But 23% of the City’s revenues come from property taxes – which are going down as noted above. And another 33% of revenues are directly influenced by the pace of the economy – sales & utility taxes, permits and fees, business and hotel taxes. That’s a pretty shaky revenue stream to balance a budget on in a city already experiencing double-digit unemployment.

These issues will all be discussed at the Town Hall meeting on Thursday, Feb 26th. Eleven Westside Communities have been invited to participate in the two hour meeting at Westminster, Elementary School, starting at 6:30pm. Refreshments will be provided. There is no charge to attend this meeting, and the format will allow for questions and answers of the speakers.

For more information contact Marc Saltzberg at outreach@VeniceNC.org.

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