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Study on County Budget Crisis

June 09, 1996

* Re "County at Fault for Budget Crisis, Study Says," June 3: The Rose Institute study confirms what I have been saying for some time: The county needs to privatize its health care system, reduce welfare and be relieved of state and federal unfunded mandates.

Unfunded mandates are truly the central issue. Two-thirds of the county's budget is for health and welfare, and these expenditures are mandated by state and federal regulations. Only a small portion of the budget (the general fund) is controlled by the Board of Supervisors. The state, over the past few years, has ripped off $1 billion annually from Los Angeles County in local property taxes to balance its budget. This reduced the county's discretionary revenue by 25%.

With respect to salaries: From July 1, 1989, through June 1996, the average pay increase for county employees was below both the employment cost index and the consumer price index for the Los Angeles area. Unrepresented county employees have not had a pay increase since the 1992-93 fiscal year, and recently negotiated contracts with the represented employees, most of whom have not had an increase since 1993-94, have frozen existing salary levels for another two years.

Most of the county employees making the larger salaries are doctors and lawyers. Furthermore, some of the high-salaried managers referenced in the study actually combine two or more jobs that are performed separately in other jurisdictions.

The 58 counties cannot be restored to full fiscal health until the state restores local property taxes and allows local government to make its own decisions on appropriate funding levels for health, welfare and other functions of government.


Chairman, Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County

* In my Webster's New Collegiate dictionary, "supervisor" is defined as one that supervises, especially an administrative officer in charge of a business, government or school unit or operation. It's funny that in almost every article regarding county problems, the supervisors put the blame on some underling.

Captains are in charge of ships and bear the ultimate responsibility. The five supervisors should be held 100% accountable according to the above definition! Why are they always passing the buck?


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