Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bee blasts county for late wake-up to reality and meanspirited cost-cutting

In a board editorial today in the Sacramento Bee, the county of Sacramento was blasted for unreal revenue projections which are causal for quick and deep cuts in services. The immediate cuts will deny healthcare services to the poor and eliminate the jobs of 50 of the current 60 probation-department field officers who supervise adults.

Writes the Bee editorial board,
This level of program reductions should be unacceptable. If carried out, they will make Sacramento County a more dangerous place to live and spark lawsuits by advocates for the poor. Yet as brutal as they are, these cuts – totaling $8 million – likely are inevitable, because the county's shortfall is so large. At least $22 million in additional cuts will be needed, and [County Executive Terry] Schutten plans to present his additional recommendations to supervisors on Feb. 10.

So far, the supervisors have handled the county's budget crisis much as Pollyanna would have. They have given Schutten far too much leeway to defer decisions and hide the ball on revenue numbers.

That has to end. Supervisors need to immediately consider furloughs of employees in most county programs as an alternative to eliminating clinics and other vital programs.
The service cuts will skew toward impacting the homeless more than other members of society in our metropolis. The homeless already suffer greatly and have little hope of digging their way out of poverty with the economy as it is. Hurting the homeless the most, during bad times, is both a tragedy and an indicator of ongoing political immaturity.

The Bee ends its editorial with these words:
The county is experiencing an epic slide in property values and sales tax revenues, and this isn't a blip. It's a monumental challenge, and it will require sacrifices and realism from everyone – beginning with the people elected to run Sacramento County. [Among the Bee Board's suggestions is that Supervisors cut their $98,334/year salaries and that Schutten forego part of his $250,000/year salary.]

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