Explaining Southern California's economy

Why are we so worried about L.A.'s budget deficit?

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has budget issues.

There's a general sense of hysteria — including the use of the "b" world (bankruptcy) — over Los Angeles' estimated $222-million budget deficit. Everyone seems very, very worried. The future looks even more grim, as the deficit is expected to rise to $427 million by 2014-15. There's abundant hang-wringing going on. But is $222 million really that big a deal?

The overall budget is about $7 billion. The deficit is less than 3 percent of that total. For comparison, New York City is running a deficit on a $70-billion budget that's more than double that of L.A. — and the Big Apple is delighted that it can reduce that to L.A. levels. 

Miguel Santana, the Chief Administrative Officer, actually has a plan to close most of L.A.'s budget gap. This is from the L.A. Times:

Santana says about $150 million in new revenue is needed. Doubling the so-called documentary transfer tax imposed on the sale of property could bring an additional $100 million, he said. Raising the parking tax by 10% to 15% would bring in $40 million. Additional revenue could come from improved collection of parking ticket fees and ambulance billing, he said.