Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Villaraigosa backs Measure A on March ballot to increase sales tax

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A proposed half-cent sales tax increase that city leaders say will generate $100 million in its first year was endorsed Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

The mayor’s backing comes months after he said the Los Angeles City Council needed to do more to cut costs and raise revenues.

“We cut a third of the L.A. civilian General Fund budget,” said Villaraigosa at a Monday morning press conference. “We’ve had consolidations of departments, we found efficiencies. We’ve done everything that we can.

“The fact of the matter is, when you look at the kinds of tough decisions that we’ve made … I can now support a sales tax increase,” he said.

The tax increase, if approved on the March 5 ballot, would take effect in October. It would bring in an estimated $100 million in its first year and $200 million a year going forward. Without the tax increase, the size of the Los Angeles Police Department could drop by 200 to 500 officers, according to a report released last week by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana.

The leading mayoral candidates publicly oppose Measure A, though council President Herb Wesson doubts that’s really the case.

Also appearing at the press conference, Weston said when you run for office, “there are certain things that you say and certain things that you don’t say."

“I’m a little miffed at what [the mayoral candidates are] saying," Wesson added. "I don’t care what they tell you. They are somewhere right now with their fingers crossed, praying that this passes because they do not want to be sworn in July 1 and when their hand goes down, be given a document with $200 million worth of cuts." 

Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel doubts the city's math, telling KPCC on Monday: “I believe the public isn’t ready today to say that we’ve looked under every nook and cranny. That we’ve prioritized our services, that we’re doing everything to increase revenue by being more business-friendly.”

The projected deficit for fiscal year 2013-14, which starts on July 1, is $216 million. 

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