LA leaders debate budget: layoffs looking imminent

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Next week the Los Angeles City Council will tackle the work of cutting half a billion dollars from L.A.'s budget. L.A.'s mayor and the council have battled over the scope of the problem. But one thing’s looking certain: there will be hundreds of layoffs under any final budget plan. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is proposing the elimination of more than 700 positions. The city council's budget committee recommended adding 1000 more to the chopping block. The discrepancy is 53 million dollars in revenues that the mayor hopes to get from privatizing parking assets. One councilman calls it fake money and speculative. Villaraigosa argues it's solid. "There is nothing speculative about this deal. We are close to a deal. There's nothing speculative about it," he says.

Any layoffs could cost the city some money while saving it. Under a deal with a coalition of city unions, layoffs trigger automatic pay raises for remaining employees. Labor leaders, including Bob Schoonover with the Service Employees International Union, have lobbied against layoffs. Speaking to the city council, he criticized city leaders for cutting services and he questioned the credibility of the city's deficit numbers. "We started this process in January," Schoonover said. "I think the number floating around then was 600 million and it seems like every time we get close to maybe being in the ballpark of a resolution the numbers move around again."

The full Los Angeles City Council will debate what to cut and what to keep next week.