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Officials: Budget crisis will hit deep, hurt bad

Original post made on May 21, 2009

Grim, dire, unprecedented, catastrophic, devastating. Officials from school districts and cities, counties, special districts and state programs are grasping for adjectives to describe California's budget crisis. Those are some.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 21, 2009, 2:49 PM

Comments (26)

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Posted by Stephen
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 21, 2009 at 3:49 pm

No need to cut services. Just cut excessive benefits and wages from state workers. They are more generous than their boses - the puclic. I see no reason why a guy making $15 bucks an hour and no health benefits should be taxed to support 90% pension.

Cut services or raise taxes. False choice. CUT PENSIONS!!! Cut Salaries!!! Bring them down to what the rest of the world lives on.


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Posted by Don G.
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm

This is California's wake up call and most importantly a wake up call to the politicians ruining this state. The yahoos in Sacramento and locally should be more concerned with how to utilize California's strong points and resources (oil, timber, agriculture, entertainment, and great weather) rather than passing nonsense laws to make a special day commemorating a man for his sexual preference. We've got a fantastic brain trust of really smart people in this valley and it's time to start using it before they all move out of state or out of the country!


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

A federal judge has cut off the spigot for crucial water to a huge amount of farm land in the Central Valley to save some "endangered smelt" in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley.
Almond orchards are going dry, towns like Firebaugh are drying up, thousands of farm workers are laid off - and unemployme is rising in the Valley - all because of a FISH. These companies will not be paying taxes or sales taxes or income taxes all because of one bleeding heart Federal judge. Thousands of tons of these almond and walnut crops are destined for the Far East - which is going to hit the US 'balance of trade' and reduce shipping out of Sacramento and Oakland....,all because of one Federal judge who probably never held a fishing pole in his life. Also drying up are fruit orchards, etc. The entire story was in a edition of the SJ Mercury News. The situation around Merced and Fresno is dire. They need water.
These crops were taxes, the employees were working and not on welfare and unemployment. Something is very wrong here.


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Posted by Right On
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Thanks for telling it like it is Don G. California needs a wake up call and this is it!


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Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2009 at 8:23 am

Stephen, Palo Alto and place and people like Palo Alto forms.. Think it is the way it should be.

The POOR pay for the MISTAKES of the PEOPLE running the city and state... Pay for their FAILURES and screw ups. Pay for their pensions..

BLAME THE POOR and make them pay.. It's a matter of pride.. How much would the city SAVE... IF KEENE bought his own HOUSE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE...


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Southgate
on May 22, 2009 at 10:36 am

@fireman
I don't think the POOR pay much. After all, they're poor.


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Posted by Benefits too high?
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2009 at 10:37 am

I have to agree with Stephen. As employees of the public, if we can't afford to pay the salaries and benefits of state employees, cut them to the point that we can. If state employees choose to leave because of this cut, that may be unfortunate, but so be it. Being in the private sector, my only "pension" is what I save personally in my 401K, I am not getting anything from my employer. I am also not getting lifetime health insurance. I also don't get an annual raise if my company is not making a profit. How can the state do differently if we don't have the money?


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Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2009 at 10:39 am

DAVE, The pay more than you... OF WHAT THEY HAVE... All or most is NOT ENOUGH for you.

The RICH seem to not pay also, so who is paying?


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on May 22, 2009 at 10:49 am

Cutting the unaffordable compensation of public employees seems like the logican (and only) way out of the current budget problems at the state and local levels.

But this is easier said than done. The Unions have a stranglehold on the political system and will not give up their claim on our financial future without a huge fight.

For example, in another thread, (Web Link), I made the perfectly reasonable that the highest paid city employees forgo 10% of their pay during the budget crisis to help solve the problem. I was met with unyielding (and unreasonable) hostility from union members. Imagine what this would be like if a serious effort (rather than a blog suggestion) to cut public employee pay were put forth!

I think the state is in for big trouble.


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Posted by High speed rail
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 22, 2009 at 11:05 am

Ironically, despite the budget crisis California seems intent on pursuing the high speed rail. What a laugh.


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Posted by PA fan
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2009 at 11:07 am

Can anyone tell me if -- on a per capita basis -- the budget for Palo Alto is greater than / less than it was 10 years ago? If the answer is "greater than" (taking into account inflation), then I say it wouldn't hurt too bad to scale back city services (i.e., reduce our city budget). I remember feeling Palo Alto was a pretty good place to live even 10 years ago.


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Posted by Don G.
a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2009 at 11:16 am

Anna has it right. Cutting the compensation package is one way of reducing overspending. Unfortunately it's just like the auto industry and the UAW. It took filing chapter 11 for them to "get it". It's either cut pay and benefits or no job--which do you prefer? California and local govts will have to do the same. No more "pet" programs and funding. It should be back to basics and utilizing what we (Californian's) have. What we don't realize is we have a LOT of great and wonderful resources in California. It's time to use them (wisely) and return to sound financial policies.


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Posted by City Employee
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I'm willing to take that 10% pay cut because it's the right thing to do. Everyone needs to contribute to the solution if we are to survive.

But that does not mean that I'm over payed or don't deserve the benefits I receive. Why weren't all of you complaining before? Oh, I know, it was because you were too busy collecting bonuses, collecting stock options, and buying houses/cars/vacations so expensive I can't even dream of them.

Public sector work has always been considered second class. Public employees were considered fools to waste our degrees on such low paying jobs. Now suddenly we are over compensated?

I do my job, and I do it well. I've spent my entire career in public work. I deserve what I earn, but I'll gladly take a cut in pay, cut back my hours, or whatever it takes because I don't want to see any more people get laid off and I want to be a part of the solution. Unlike some union people (including police and fire) I want to make the sacrifice because it is only right.


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Posted by Chris B
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm

We are already the highest taxed state in the Union (sales and income/corporate taxes). Time to live within our means. There is lots of fat in public expenditure as it has grown way faster than GDP/inflation/incomes over the last 15 years. I would first start with state employees as their benefits are far out of proportion of what it would take to employee a non-union employee. Time to do what Ronald Regan did with the air-traffic control union.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Restore the overall tax rates for the wealthy to what they were under Eisenhower. Those people now pay about 1/6 of what they used to pay, the poor pay alot more.

Start the wailing now, and break out the little teabags.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm

"...package of propositions aimed to help close California's $21.3 million budget gap."

Is that a typo?


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Posted by Reactionary Fringe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Budgets 101:

Step 1: start off with the largest pocket -- let's guess, could this be salaries and benefits? Publish what ALL the state "public servants" are making?
Step 2: Line up the ones that are double dipping.
Step 3: Cut salaries by 50%
Step 4: Publish ALL the state commissions and what the commissioners salaries are.
Step 5: Eliminate 50% of the commissions
Step 6: Cut the salaries of the Commissioners to 50%

TRANSPARENCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Posted by Info
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm

To think that the Palo Alto school district just granted its employees a pay raise...

More irresponsible decision making in our town.


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Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on May 23, 2009 at 2:25 am

Re: Posting by "High speed rail":
If California does not consider using the rail as transportation, you can only imagine the polution to continue and health risks to escalate...who is going to pay for all of those medical conditions of those unfortunates who contract lung diseases,etc from continual use of your dirty car emissions ?????????? Seems using rail transportation would be the way to cut costs in the long run..................


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Posted by kludged
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2009 at 11:05 am

What is sad is we Californians want lots of services and we want them for free. Please put criminals away for years (3 strikes), pay for 'free' education by cutting property taxes (prop 13), and watch health care costs zoom through the roof.

The realignment has begun, our schools are currently funded at the 18th of 50 statewide, this will drop, possibly lower than say mississippi. We have to make strategic choices, like do we want to lock up pot smokers for 20 years, or do we want to teach our kids, and provide poor kids with health care? Maybe we could just allow children to get health care at emergency wards and then send them straight to bankruptcy court and cap all their future income.

wow, cool! What a great state!


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Posted by Garfield
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm

California Is in a sad decay with no end in sight. The worst is yet to come. As more health care is cut for the mentally ill. Plus a major loss of after school programs and counseling for at risk teens. We will see more crime in the next few years.

Politicians at the state, county and city earn to much money. Their are to many assistants to and aids under even small city position leaders. We need to cut back on all the unnecessary jobs that have been filled by over paid officials.

We need to a pay more taxes and do what we can to fight for our futures. Anything and everything we do now is very important to our future. When I'm ready to retire and be a old man. I want peace and security. For myself and my community.


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Posted by Need an Answer
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 23, 2009 at 7:38 pm

"We need to a pay more taxes"

Garfield, where you been boy? California voters just rejected more taxes. Therefore, the question for you is, where would you make the cuts to pay for your mental health programs? I've got a better idea: People should stop acting crazy.


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Posted by Ben
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2009 at 9:32 pm

City Employee. There have been several studies that show public employees are paid 20% to 30% more that those in private industry for comparable jobs. (A bus driver earning more than $100,000 per year!!) Plus you get pensions and benefits that most in the private sector do not.

I do commend you for saying you would be willing to take a pay cut. Would that be to the level of private industry workers?


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Posted by Michael Slack
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 24, 2009 at 11:05 am

I agree that public employees' salaries and pensions are way too high, apparently accounting for a large percentage of the state and local government's deficits. And I am a public employee.

Private industry is renegotiating salaries, pensions and health care with their employees. Our leaders at all governmental levels should be doing the same in a serious way. If public employees quit because of cuts, so be it. There are plenty of other applicants for positions at reasonable salaries.

Also, have our so-called leaders looked at our corporate tax structure? I wonder if corporations shouldn't pay more for local services than they do. I know, they say they'll leave the state. They already have, incorporating in New Jersey where taxes are lower. But they use a large proportion of local services. I wonder if they are paying their share compared to what we private citizens are paying?


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Posted by Cliff C.
a resident of Downtown North
on May 24, 2009 at 5:23 pm

The stables at city government in Palo Alto should be shoveled out first; begin at the top with department heads and work downward until the place is in order. Get rid of all the leftover directors from the Benest era. Bring in new faces, new ideas. Cut costs, cut programs. The result will be new pride in the city government.


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Posted by City Employee
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2009 at 11:32 am

To Ben

Thanks for the response, Ben. Could you provide some links to those studies? I would love to see them.

My city job requires a master's degree in library science. I currently make about $70,000. My colleagues in the private sector make $90,000-120,000 before their stock options, bonuses etc. Course, that's when they have jobs. Corporate libraries are often the first thing to go.

I chose security over money. Believe me, I know I make decent money and I have great benefits. So, when you say am I willing to make a cut to their level, I don't know what to say. But I do believe that none of us should be exempt from making a sacrifice.

Sounds like I should have become a bus driver though. lol


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