COUNTIES TO LEGISLATURE: BUDGET NOW, PLEASE!

February 18, 2009

Members of the California Legislature
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Honorable Members:

We, the undersigned members of the Executive Committee of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), write to respectfully urge your swift passage of the budget package before you. Make no mistake, California counties are in a fiscal crisis and your delay only serves to prolong and deepen that crisis. Your quick action can stave off some of the harsh consequences that our mutual constituents will experience at the local level should the state’s cash crisis persist into the future.

Counties across the state are taking dramatic steps to resolving their budget shortfalls. Up and down the state, counties are experiencing declining revenues and skyrocketing caseload increases, requiring tough decisions to keep local budgets in balance. Additional layoffs of employees, dramatic reductions in services, and cancellation of projects are in the near future should a budget agreement fail to occur. In some instances, counties will literally close our doors, unable to pay employees and vendors and unable to provide the services their residents need and want. This dreadful reality is what we literally face without a budget resolution.

Some of you have suggested that this crisis is contrived, that the fiscal circumstances we find ourselves in are nothing more than tough times that a few tweaks might remedy. Consider our situation: last Friday, the State Controller failed to provide payments to counties to provide federally- and state-required human services to those who need them. On February 25, additional payments will be withheld. In total for the month of February, the State Controller will have withheld nearly $270 million to counties. These are the facts counties currently face. We want to be clear: counties cannot sustain these programs on their own.

We appreciate the situation you are in, and we admit that there is much to dislike in this budget. However, we also recognize that the state’s current fiscal condition can only be addressed through painful cuts in services, as well as asking each Californian to sacrifice through new revenues. Most importantly, the state’s economy needs a balanced budget in order to begin its recovery. Further delay is the most deplorable anti-economic stimulus action one can contemplate.

With great understanding of the extraordinary task before you, we urge approval of the budget. The consequences for failure to do so are far too severe.

Sincerely,

Gary Wyatt, CSAC President, Imperial County Supervisor;
Tony Oliveira, CSAC First Vice President and Kings County Supervisor;
John Tavaglione, CSAC Second Vice President, Riverside County Supervisor;
Rich Gordon, CSAC Past President and San Mateo County Supervisor;
Don Knabe, Los Angeles County Supervisor;
Federal Glover, Contra Costa County Supervisor;
Greg Cox, San Diego County Supervisor;
Roger Dickinson, Sacramento County Supervisor;
Liz Kniss Santa Clara County Supervisor;
Kathy Long, Ventura County Supervisor;
Susan Adams, Marin County Supervisor;
Phil Cox, Tulare County Supervisor;
Mike Nelson, Merced County Supervisor;
Mike McGowan, Yolo County Supervisor;
Merita Callaway, Calaveras County Supervisor;
Valerie Brown, Sonoma County Supervisor; and
Susan Cash, Inyo County Supervisor.

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I like going places: out West, west of the West, and all the way around the back of the globe to the East. I like to go by train, plane, automobile, horseback. Whatever. And I like writing about what I see, feel, hear, smell, and touch all along the way and once I get there.

4 thoughts on “COUNTIES TO LEGISLATURE: BUDGET NOW, PLEASE!

  1. Was Tuolumne County given the opportunity to sign on to this letter? I would like to have seen us represented. The legislators who are blocking the state budget are behaving like spoiled children. They can't get everything they want, so they are holding their breath until we all turn blue. I don't like the idea of higher taxes and fewer services either, but at this point, I'm not feeling inclined to give them any of my tax dollars at all, if they're just going to be used to drive California over a cliff.

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  2. Was Tuolumne County given the opportunity to sign on to this letter? I would like to have seen us represented. The legislators who are blocking the state budget are behaving like spoiled children. They can't get everything they want, so they are holding their breath until we all turn blue. I don't like the idea of higher taxes and fewer services either, but at this point, I'm not feeling inclined to give them any of my tax dollars at all, if they're just going to be used to drive California over a cliff.

    -Greg Falken

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  3. We weren't offered the opportunity – it came from the Executive Board of the California State Association of Counties – but I feel fairly sure the Board would have signed on had we been asked. Our top priority is the people we serve in this county.

    I haven't heard one person say they like this budget, but everyone who is voting for it acknowledges it has to go forward. It's particularly hard for those who are philosophically opposed to raising taxes, but even some of us see that if we don't act now, we will be over a cliff.

    I believe that when people start seeing the impacts here at home, there will be a loud outcry. I'm hoping that won't be too late.

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  4. Terri, We know a friend born, and raised in Tuolumne City, now working as Calif. Dept. of Corrections Officer
    who owes $14,000.oo Back Taxes for 2007'. I sure wish I belonged lo a Union that could provide with a income
    that after paying withholding for a the year, I would have earned enough money to still owe a additional $14,000.oo. We are happy that he finds his employment with our state so rewarding. Thanks Terri

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