SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest, may be forced to make deep budget cuts to balance its fiscal 2010-2011 general fund budget in the face of new state budget cuts and continued weakness in revenue collections, officials said Tuesday.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week proposed closing a $18.9 billion budget gap with $6.9 billion in federal funds, $8.5 billion in spending cuts, and $4.5 billion in funding shifts.
The governor’s proposal would hit local governments by cutting transit funds, putting more state prison inmates in county jails, and shifting more responsibility for social services to counties.
Los Angeles County supervisors, who represent a county of 9.9 million people, said they couldn’t afford to absorb many more of the state’s budget woes.
“We know that we are going to be cut back somewhat,” said Gloria Molina, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors. “We want to make the point to the governor and the Legislature that we have taken a major set of cuts already.”
She said the county has already cut more than $60 million in welfare and aid to the disabled, $77 million in mental health services, and $60 million in public health.
County chief executive officer Bill Fujioka declined to release the county’s estimates of the impact of the proposed state budget cuts, but he has asked department heads to prepare for spending reductions of up to 9% in the coming 2010-11 fiscal year. The double-A-minus rated county’s general fund budget this year is about $23.6 billion.
“We are very concerned here in L.A. County that these cuts are going to have tremendous impact,” Molina said. “We don’t have enough money in our rainy-day fund to be able to bridge the gap.”
A big part of the fiscal challenge to California counties is the state’s likely cuts to social service programs that are administered by counties.
“It’s extremely frustrating to us to be put in this situation,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “They’re cutting mandated programs, and many of those programs are state and federal mandates that by law we’re still required to perform those social services.”
The five supervisors disagreed about what the state ought to do about its fiscal woes — more taxes versus budget cuts that don’t hit counties — but they all opposed raiding their budget and pushed their local representatives to oppose local budget raids.