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On the Budget, The Time to Act is Now

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Today I went before a special, full session of the Los Angeles City Council to take questions from them on the budget crisis.

I stood before Council. I answered every question. I outlined a plan. And I made my position clear:

The time to act is now and we must move immediately to balance this year's budget and replenish the reserve fund.

I outlined a package of cost-savings and revenue options that when added to the elimination of 1,000 city positions, will balance our budget. It will restore our reserve fund. And it will maintain a good credit rating.

I made it clear that we can no longer "Just Say No" to public-private partnerships or privatizing our parking garages, convention center or zoo. By changing our business model we can increase our revenues and put LA on a path to a sustainable financial future.

I made it clear that, during the worst recession since the 1930s, we will not go backwards on the gains we've made to make our streets the safest they've been since the Eisenhower Administration.

Let's not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. We must maintain the current size of our police department - the largest in LA's history - to maintain the overall drop in violent crime by 18% and a 40% drop in gang-homicides.

Public safety is the first obligation of government. When you don't have safe streets, everything falls apart. People become isolated. Kids turn into prisoners. Jobs evaporate. Families struggle just to survive.

Public safety is the foundation of everything we are trying to build in the City of the Angels.

I also made it clear that ending the fiscal year with little or no reserves is absolutely unacceptable. Without sufficient reserves, we could trigger the downgrading of the city's credit rating, which makes borrowing more expensive and in some cases impossible. This in turn could lead to an inability to meet our cash flow needs in the coming year.

Let me repeat: ending the fiscal year with little or no reserves is absolutely unacceptable.

No one needs reminding that we are in the middle of the worst economic downturn in generations. Families all over Los Angeles are struggling. And here at City Hall, it is no different. Just like our families, we know we can no longer afford to do everything. We know we have to make difficult choices and focus on our priorities. And while there are no easy solutions to solving our budget deficit, we also know we were sent to City Hall to act. And we must act now.

If you have any questions about the budget crises or my proposals to fix it, please ask them here.