February 18, 2009Members 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.