Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel unveiled a $417 million plan this morning to hire 2,000 new police officers and 1,000 new firefighters by 2020.
Greuel said she would pay for the additional hires by setting aside a quarter of the projected revenue increases over the next several years. However, the plan relies on projections of 5% revenue growth for five straight years, which is dramatically more optimistic than city budget projections.
The city's costs are growing at a faster rate than its revenues (see chart below), leaving it unclear where Greuel would find $417 million to hire new police officers and firefighters. She has said she opposes a tax increase.
Here's the city's fiscal outlook for the next few years. This was published last April, so the numbers are a little out of date, but the point still holds. As you can see, there's not a lot of extra money lying around to with which to hire new police officers:
City Administrative OfficeL.A.'s budget outlook. Greuel's plan is to use 25% of the revenue increase (blue line) to pay for new cops and firefighters and a public safety trust fund. She has offered few specifics on addressing expenditures (red line).
Greuel's plan bears a striking resemblance to one offered by Bob Hertzberg during his 2005 campaign for mayor. Hertzberg and Greuel both hired strategist John Shallman to run their campaigns. Hertzberg's plan was to set aside 25% of new revenue to hire 3,000 cops -- which would have brought the total force to 12,000, the same figure Greuel has proposed.
The City Administrative Officer has projected long-term revenue growth of about 3%. In an interview, Shallman defended the revenue projections of 5% a year for each year from 2016 through 2020, saying that Greuel's economic plans will ensure that "we can be insulated from giant dips" in revenue.
Shallman also emphasized that the 12,000 figure is a "goal," and that it could change if revenues fall short.
He also said that Greuel will be able to tackle the city's spiraling expenditures, based on her experience identifying waste, fraud and abuse as city controller. The bulk of the expenditure growth is due to various forms of employee compensation. Asked how Greuel would address that, Shallman said, "She's gonna sit down at the table with the parties, open up the books, and shine a big light on it."
Greuel made her announcement this morning alongside Frank Lima, the president of United Firefighters of L.A. City. UFLAC has endorsed Greuel, as has the L.A. Police Protective League.
However, the LAPPL leadership was not at Greuel's news conference. Tyler Izen, the president of the LAPPL, said Greuel had not consulted with him on the plan. (This appears to have been deliberate, to avoid accusations that the LAPPL is coordinating its independent expenditure campaign with Greuel.)
Over the past few years, the union has consistently pushed for more overtime -- not for hiring more cops. Police overtime was cut dramatically during the budget crisis.
"I support putting more officers on the street," Izen said. "I think the best way for us to do that now is to pay officers their overtime."
Councilman Eric Garcetti, Greuel's top rival, has previously said he supports Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's goal of 10,000 officers, which the LAPD reached this year. But he has also argued that the LAPD coverage plan is just as important as the total number of cops on the force.
Garcetti's campaign fired off a response challenging Greuel's numbers, and referring to the controversy over her claim to have identified $160 million in waste, fraud and abuse.
"Everyday, Ms. Greuel makes a new promise to a new group. But her numbers never seem to add up," said Jeff Millman, Garcetti's spokesman. "She has collected just $239,000 for the city, which is enough to only hire 2 police officers for one year."
Councilwoman Jan Perry, also a candidate for mayor, issued a statement calling Greuel's proposal "more of a reflection of her failing campaign, and what she promised to police and fire unions behind closed doors in exchange for their endorsement
of her campaign."
In addition to the extra spending on police and firefighters, Greuel has vowed to phase out the gross receipts tax, which brings in roughly $425 million a year. Added to the cost of hiring new police and firefighters, Greuel has made $842 million worth of new promises.
Garcetti has also promised to phase out the tax on businesses, making the dubious claim
that doing so would generate enough growth to offset the drop in revenue.
The city's deficit is currently projected at $216 million next year.
Today the City Administrative Office put out a current version of the chart above. Here it is. The numbers have improved, but the big-picture concept is the same:
L.A. City Administrative Office