Los Angeles County’s Budget Financially Secure

Today’s release of the 2013-14 Los Angeles County budget shows a county that has been fiscally prudent and has successfully weathered one of the most difficult economic recessions in recent memory. Unlike many other county and city municipalities, Los Angeles County achieved a major accomplishment in having no cuts or projected shortfall with this $24.699 projected budget.

Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer, William Fujioka, at the April 15 2013-14 budget release hearing.

This is due, in large part, to the excellent leadership and management of Chief Executive Officer Bill T. Fujioka and a successful partnership with labor. We were able to negotiate with our labor partners to get through the recession. As part of those negotiations, the unions agreed to forego wage increases for five years. But the county also did its part by agreeing to pay for health care subsidies that so far have amounted to $167.349 million — an agreement that will remain in force for years to come and an amount that will continue to increase over time. The county also agreed to not have layoffs or furloughs.

Now that we are finally starting to see a turnaround and stabilization in our economy, we must proceed with caution but also optimism with our union partners. Workers are indeed entitled to a wage increase, but any increase needs a sustainable source of funding and must be fiscally prudent.

Also, we must be attentive to other fiscal priorities. These include replenishing our county reserves, some of which also helped us weather this recession and ensure that when hard times come we will again be prepared. We must also plan for the unforeseen costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, which will put a great deal of financial pressure on all counties to care for the uninsured. Lastly, the cost of absorbing the state’s released prisoner population into our county has been significantly more than what was projected. Pressure from the courts on state government to dramatically reduce the prison population has been transferred directly to the counties. The ongoing realignment of the prison population has taxed our local jails and also increased our healthcare costs since many of those individuals suffer from mental illness and are in need of assistance.

I am confident that we will find the right, measured approach to balance these priorities as we move forward.

With hope,
MRT