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LA City Council approves $7.2 billion budget (updated)

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The L.A. city budget includes increases in parking fines and the elimination of funds that allow Angelenos to remotely testify before the L.A. City Council.

A $7.2 billion budget that increases parking fines and eliminates the funds that allow Angelenos to remotely testify was unanimously approved today by the Los Angeles City Council.

Tickets for all parking fines will increase by $5, while fines related to handicap parking will increase $10. Those tickets are expected to generate an additional $2.4 million for the city. 

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introduced the budget in April, he warned that 231 employees would be laid off. However, an unexpected influx of property taxes and funds found by the chief legislative analyst means those layoffs will be pushed back until at least Jan. 1, 2013. 

The balanced budget also eliminates a $238 million deficit.

“The real budget solution that the city faces is to get businesses back in the city and to get people back to work and when those things happen, we’ll have a much easier time delivering services to our constituents,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. 


LA City Council prepares for vote on $7.2 billion budget

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Chris Hall/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to approve the city's $7.2 billion budget on Monday.

Angelenos had their final opportunity to weigh in on the city’s $7.2 billion budget today as the Los Angeles City Council prepares for a final vote on the spending plan.

Council members will meet at City Hall on Monday to discuss and vote on any possible changes to a plan that avoids 209 layoffs -- at least until January. Since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released his budget April 20, members of the Budget and Finance Committee have spent more than 40 hours combing through the proposal.

“Is this a good budget? In a perfect world, of course this is not a good budget. Of course we want to do more for the programs that we care about,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the committee.

“Given the limitations that we’re facing, given the restrictions that are before us, because of the work that we’ve done today, this is, I believe, a balanced budget that attempts to address the structural deficiencies that we have in our budget.” 


Brown backs off plan to shut down youth prisons

Gov. Jerry Brown

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California Gov. Jerry Brown speaking on budget cuts during a news conference on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Alongside the much-publicized cuts to in-home supportive services and potentially education in Governor Jerry Brown's revised budget this week targeting the state's $15.7 billion shortfall, one state agency was quietly spared: the Division of Juvenile Justice, formerly known as the California Youth Authority.

For the second time in two years, Brown had proposed eliminating the agency in his original budget this year, only to face massive outcry from the correctional officers' union, as well as district attorneys and law enforcement groups. Both times he floated the proposal, Brown pointed to the fact that the juvenile prison population has declined in California from a high of over 10,000 inmates in 1996 to 1,032 as of February 29, 2012. Furthermore, the agency remains under court oversight following a host of settlements springing from claims of systemic abuse and mistreatment of juvenile offenders. The consensus among correctional officials and juvenile justice reformers is that the DJJ has vastly improved conditions over the past few years, though allegations of harsh treatment persist. 


California's budget deficit rockets to $16 billion, says Gov. Brown

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California Gov. Jerry Brown at the State Capitol in Sacramento in 2011.

California’s state budget deficit has jumped to a projected 16-billion dollars. That’s a 7-billion dollar increase from the start of the year. Governor Jerry Brown announced the news in a YouTube video ahead of Monday's release of his revised budget proposal.  

Said Brown, "This means we will have to go much farther and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year.  But we can't fill a hole of this magnitude with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools." 

Brown is urging voters to approve his tax initiative on the November ballot. He says the state’s shortfall grew from 9.2 billion dollars in January because the economy hasn’t recovered as quickly as the administration had hoped.