Bay Area at risk of more budget cuts

May 6, 2009 7:48:30 PM PDT
Cities and counties across California are also at risk of another round of painful budget cuts. The governor's office is looking for alternatives in case the special election propositions are defeated two weeks from now.

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If the propositions on the May 19th ballot are defeated, plan 'b' appears to be cutting $2 billion in money for cities and counties.

As the governor campaigns for the special election propositions, his administration is releasing a list of what cities would lose if the propositions fail.

Six Bay Area cities would be among those who would lose the most.

San Francisco would be hit the hardest at $61 million.

"And this could have a devastating effect on local government," said the San Francisco Mayor's press secretary Nathan Ballard.

At a budget subcommittee meeting, the director of Parks and Recreation told ABC7 more cuts means losing services, like closing public pools, the city's pools cost $4 million a year to run and user fees provide about $4,000 a year.

"If we wanted to raise the fee to collect the amount of money it costs us to run the swimming pools we'd go from $1 for a child to $38," said Jared Blumenfeld from San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Blumenfeld said city services would have to be cut.

The second biggest hit in the bay area is San Jose at $12 million.

"It means we'd have to implement some immediate cuts in services and probably layoff 150 to 160 people," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

But the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says releasing details of a contingency plan now is a scare tactic to drive voters to the polls.

"We have pointed out to the state Gov. and in fact the governor himself with the California Performance Review has identified billions of dollars of savings in waste fraud and abuse," said Jon Coupal from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Coupal says the tax payers shouldn't take the threats seriously.

"This notion that there is enough waste to pay for billions of dollars of deficit is just ridiculous," said ABC7 Political Analyst Bruce Cain, Ph.D.

Professor Cain says the governor did set up a commission looking for wasteful spending.

"And in the end they found millions of dollars not billions of dollars, and the bottom line is there are a lot of things like schools health care and higher education that do not have a lot of waste. What they have is a lot of expense," said Professor Cain.

Professor Cain suspects the governor is playing politics by releasing details of the backup plan. But that doesn't mean the state's financial crisis is any less serious.

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