Eric Garcetti And Wendy Greuel Duel Over Budget Numbers

Councilman Eric Garcetti kept the focus on Wendy Greuel's plan to hire 2,000 cops and 1,000 firefighters today, arguing that his chief opponent in the campaign for L.A. mayor is making promises she can't keep.


"Independent analysis shows the numbers simply don't add up," Garcetti said this afternoon. "Controller Greuel's plan will cost $417 million a year, but has identified no way to pay for it. It's time for straight talk."

The Greuel campaign shot back with a statement from former LAPD Chief William Bratton, who backed Greuel's goal to expand the department to 12,000 officers.

"I'm pleased to endorse Wendy Greuel's ambitious goal to achieve 12,000 police officers in the City of Los Angeles," Bratton said in the statement. "Per geographic mile, Los Angeles is one of the most under-policed cities in America. Wendy's support for the much needed and for too long delayed expansion and investment in the LAPD is just what Los Angeles needs to ensure an economically viable and safe city."

Bratton, who has not endorsed a candidate in the mayor's race, did not offer a plan to pay for the extra officers.

At an afternoon news conference, Garcetti said his top spending priorities would include restoring cuts to the L.A. Fire Department to improve response times. He also said he would support restoring LAPD overtime -- which was cut during the recession -- rather than hiring new cops, as well as restoring park funding.

Responding to the press conference, Greuel strategist John Shallman blasted Garcetti for having "no plan to make public safety a priority. He has no plan to reduce response times or add officers, no plan to keep gangs off our streets and our schools secure. His plan is to continue the status quo of deficits and cuts that he helped create."

Garcetti did outline a plan to close the city's $216 million deficit for next year. The plan relies on a combination of lower-than-expected pension obligations, higher-than-expected revenues and aggressive collections of money owed to the city. It also includes a proposal to cut health care costs by $70 million. The latter figure relies on a combination of increasing employee health care contributions from 5% to 10% and expanded preventative care.

Though some aspects of that plan are speculative at best, it is more detailed than Greuel's deficit-cutting proposals. She tends to emphasize cutting waste, fraud and abuse, and "putting everything on the table," but has not put out a detailed plan to eliminate the deficit. Her public safety plan relies on estimated revenue increases of 5% per year for five years in a row -- a much rosier projection than the city has used.

Garcetti and Greuel both oppose a $200 million sales tax proposal on the March ballot, and both support eliminating the gross receipts tax, which could cost the city upwards up $425 million a year. Garcetti has said he would only support doing away with the business tax gradually, and then only if it triggers enough additional revenues from sales and other taxes to offset the cost.

Update: Charging that Greuel's "numbers don't add up" is becoming a popular line of attack. Kevin James chimes in:
As usual Controller Greuel's numbers don't add up. She has an honesty problem. Wendy hasn't been honest with the public about the city's finances. Wendy's budget is pie in the sky based upon rosy projections just like much that she has proposed and voted for at City Hall. How can she propose this plan when she doesn't even support the Measure that public safety unions claim is needed to keep them at current rates. If her numbers never add up and she won't be honest with the public, how can we ever trust her to be an honest Mayor?


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