Mortgage crisis takes a bite out of states and cities
By Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 31, 2007
DENVER -- Dozens of states, counties and cities across the nation will enter the new year facing deep and unexpected budget holes as the widening mortgage crisis cuts sharply into tax revenue.
Elected officials, scrambling to adjust, are trimming money for public schools, reducing grants to help the homeless, even asking police to dry-clean their uniforms less often.
"We're talking about a pretty tough fiscal environment for the next four or five years," said Christopher W. Hoene, the director of policy and research for the National League of Cities. "Libraries, parks, after-school programs . . . you'll see lots of questions raised about cities' abilities to fund them."
Here's an extra credit research project for you. Go to your local library (while it is still open) and find copies of your city or town's budget from 1958. Review the line items covered by the budget (ignore the costs associated). Now compare it to the line items covered in the FY08 budget. Keep that in mind when the debates begin over "essential services" in your community.
Another expected outcome - you'll see parks, police, trash collection and fire departments get cut before you see things like "diversity coordinator" or the "cultural affairs office" cut. Remember the mindset of many politicos - you are a tax sheep to be sheared for the Common Good (as they define it). Agitating for cutting back on government intrusion or mission creep by government programs is heresy. The citizens must be shown how much it hurts to have government cut back, so the things that will be cut back are protection and services. I hope to be wrong for my cynicism here, but I am not banking on it.