Burbank braces for cuts

Third major slash in two years to the California budget will be felt locally, officials say.

May 15, 2010|By Zain Shauk

Burbank and Glendale officials on Friday said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest proposals for closing a $19.1-billion state budget deficit could weigh down on the region and affect local residents.

The governor proposed closing the gap with $12.4 billion in spending cuts, about $3.4 billion in funding shifts and about $3.4 billion in federal funds.

The current deficit is the third major budget hole that Schwarzenegger and the Legislature have faced in two years as tax revenues have plummeted during the economic downturn.


Lawmakers last year approved a series of spending cuts, taxes and borrowing schemes to close deficits of $60 billion.

“California no longer has low-hanging fruits,” Schwarzenegger said. “As a matter of fact, we don’t have any medium-hanging fruits. We also don’t have any high-hanging fruits. We literally have to take the ladder away from the tree and shake the whole tree.”

Among the major cuts proposed this year were those for the state’s most disadvantaged populations, including the poor and those in need of mental health services, which will affect local residents, officials said.

The governor’s plan called for eliminating CalWorks, a welfare-to-work program, and other services for poor and underserved populations. Other social services, including those for mental health, would also be cut.

Those plans would have a direct impact on local residents and the community, Burbank Mayor Anja Reinke said.

“Burbank is a microcosm of the rest of the country and, while the standard of living in Burbank is good overall, we still have people that need help . . .  We’re looking at an impact on our neighbors,” Reinke said.

Social service programs throughout Los Angeles County will be affected if the Legislature approves of the cuts.

Students at local public schools could also be left with larger class sizes and fewer teachers as administrators try to manage reduced funding.

The Glendale Unified School District could lose at least $6 million annually, while Burbank Unified could lose more than $2 million a year.

The anticipated cuts are about on par with what the districts projected when Schwarzenegger first made his budget proposals at the start of the year.

“While it’s a good thing that [school funding] didn’t go down further, it still leaves us having to make very, very significant reductions,” said Eva Lueck, chief financial officer for Glendale Unified.

Although the governor’s proposal did not include any “take-aways” of local government funds, a previous decision to take municipal redevelopment money recently took effect and will add to the troubles facing local residents if the latest proposals are adopted, Reinke said.

Glendale lost $11 million in redevelopment funds, while Burbank lost $19 million because of the most recent take-away.

Redevelopment funds are used to offer incentives that could generate local jobs, Reinke said.

“When they take away those funds, we aren’t able to do that, and if we were able to do that it would help the economy overall,” she said.

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