In a bizarre pronouncement, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa this week told Fox News' Neil Cavuto that 3,500 workers will have been cut from city payrolls come July 1 as City Hall balanced a budget that at one time was recently $585 million in the red. It's bizarre because it's not a number that has been used in the past to describe layoffs at city hall. The budget approved in May calls for 761 job cuts with at least another 1,000 if income doesn't meet projections. In fact …
… the mayor's own projections in April indicated the city would only need about 750 layoffs — in a budget proposal derided as “fantasy” by Councilman Dennis Zine — to come to terms with a then $485 million deficit that grew as the mayor and council failed to take action.
“As you know, we were also looking at big budget problems in Los Angeles,” Villaraigosa told Cavuto this week. “And I'm proud to say that, on July 1, we will have a balanced budget, and we will have extricated about 3,500 folks from our civilian payroll.”
It's a strange spin on L.A.'s budget because Villaraigosa tried to slip a massive electricity rate hike by the City Council (he marketed it as a way to make the city more green) as a way to avoid the kinds of budget cuts that would see hundreds if not thousands of his union pals lose their jobs. Fair enough. But why's he acting like a hatchet man now?
And whether or not the budget actually is balanced will depend on income projections and union concessions. If those factors don't measure up, it's all just numbers on a page, and more layoffs would be triggered. In fact, City News Service just reported Wednesday that pink slips would go out to a comparatively low number of workers — about 300 — as the new fiscal year looms July 1.
But 3,500 is an interesting number:
During Mayor Villaraigosa's tenure the city workforce grew by 5,000 workers.