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NATIONAL
February 21, 2013 | By Richard Simon
WASHINGTON - A group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Linda Sanchez of California  is launching an effort to secure money for gun buybacks, firearms safety campaigns and anti-violence programs from a new tax on handgun purchases. Sanchez unveiled the bill, which would impose a 10% tax on handgun purchases,  Thursday at Los Angeles County Sheriff's headquarters in Monterey Park.  “It is time to give our law enforcement agencies all the necessary resources to prevent gun violence," Sanchez said.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 16, 2013 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
Five of the seven candidates seeking to represent a major portion of South Los Angeles on the City Council said Saturday they oppose the sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot, arguing it would disproportionately harm low-income residents. Appearing at their first candidate forum, the contenders seeking to replace Councilwoman Jan Perry staked out positions on public safety, economic development and Proposition A, which would bring the city's tax rate to 9.5%, among the highest in the state.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 13, 2013 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
At a time when taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper to resolve Los Angeles' chronic budget crisis, city employees are receiving raises that will cost tens of millions of dollars within a few years, according to records obtained by The Times. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an assortment of City Council members and Police Chief Charlie Beck are urging voters to approve a sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot that would boost the city rate to 9.5% , one of the highest in the state. At the same time, thousands of police officers, firefighters and civilian employees are in the midst of receiving a two-year series of raises that were backed by the mayor and council.
OPINION
February 13, 2013
The city of Los Angeles is facing a deep budget deficit for the seventh consecutive year, and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says there is no end in sight. The cost of city services, particularly labor costs, is expected to grow faster than revenue, even as the economy recovers from the 2008-09 recession. The solution, according to Santana and City Council President Herb Wesson, is Proposition A, which would raise the city's sales tax by half a percent. But with voters about to install a new mayor, controller and up to eight new council members, now is not the time to take that step.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 12, 2013 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
One of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's former high-level budget advisors says that city officials are using "fuzzy math" to overstate the size of the projected budget shortfall, even as they press voters for passage of a sales-tax hike in the March 5 election. Matt Szabo, who served until last summer as Villaraigosa's No. 2 policy aide, said a new financial report indicates the budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year is less than half the $216-million figure that has been used repeatedly by officials in recent months.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 12, 2013 | Steve Lopez
You know you live in a wild news town when a massive manhunt for an ex-cop leads to a dramatic shootout and inferno on a snow-covered mountain, the mayor pitches a tax increase that's beginning to look like attempted extortion, and the rebuked local cardinal at the center of a massive molestation scandal announces he's headed to Rome to pick the next pope. Christopher Dorner, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Cardinal Roger Mahony each could fill my space today, but they're going to have to share it. :: As I write on deadline, a cabin in the mountains is ablaze, and the hunt for Dorner appears to have ended.
OPINION
February 11, 2013 | Jim Newton
The most remarkable proposal of the mayor's race to date took most of the field by surprise last week. On Tuesday, Controller Wendy Greuel announced that, if elected, she intends to add 2,000 officers to the ranks of the LAPD and 800 firefighters to the Fire Department over the next seven years. That startled even Greuel's supporters, many of whom privately regard her promise as unsustainable even under rosy economic conditions. She insisted, of course, that these 2,800 new city employees could be added without a tax increase, even though Los Angeles is looking at sizable shortfalls for years to come.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 8, 2013 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday backed the half-cent sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot, which is being pushed as a way to shield the Police Department and other public safety agencies from employee cuts. The increase, which is backed by some key business leaders and labor leaders as a means to preserve public services, would push the city's sales tax rate to 9.5%, among the highest in the state. Villaraigosa did not give his reasons for backing Proposition A, saying through a spokesman that he would make a statement next week.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 7, 2013 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
The top budget official at Los Angeles City Hall warned Thursday that a defeat of a sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot could lead to a wide array of budget cuts, including closures of city swimming pools, elimination of crossing guards, reductions in graffiti cleanup and 500 fewer police officers. In a 48-page report titled "City at a Crossroads," City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana described cuts to public safety as "unavoidable" if Proposition A is rejected. The city is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $220 million and Proposition A, if passed, would erase the vast majority of it. Santana repeated a warning from LAPD Chief Charlie Beck that staffing could be rolled back to roughly 9,500 officers if Proposition A is rejected.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 26, 2013 | David Zahniser
The developer of a proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium and the company behind two planned apartment towers in Koreatown have provided about two-thirds of the funds for the group backing a half-cent sales tax increase in the city, according to the first report released in the campaign. The committee for Proposition A on the March 5 ballot reported that it had raised $185,000 by Jan. 19, with $100,000 coming from stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group. The City Council, which is seeking the tax increase to address a $220-million budget shortfall, approved AEG's proposed stadium last year, which involves the demolition and reconstruction of part of the city's Convention Center.
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