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Koretz: No More 'Stupid Budgeting,' Let's Tax Billboards and Oil Drilling

Paul Koretz Speaking on the Budget at Today's Meeting
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It's 3:30 p.m. and the Los Angeles City Council's Budget and Finance Committee is in session. It sounds boring, but Los Angeles is facing a current $208 million budget shortfall and an expected $400 million shortfall come July, when the new fiscal year begins (and not to mention a $1 billion shortfall in future years). That could translate thousands of employee layoffs and basic city services not being done--think more potholes, less tree trimming, more sidewalks and streets in disrepair, unresolved dispute resolutions, crimes, civil and criminal, going un-prosecuted, unfunded arts grants, less disability services, lower parks staffing and lots more.Speaking about how it was ridiculous that healthy and able-fit sworn police officers are working desk jobs, Councilman Paul Koretz put his foot down. "This makes no sense, this is stupid budgeting," he said to city budget staff. "I guess the question is, have we reached the point where we can't be stupid in our budget process?"

Then Koretz asked why the city couldn't tax rental cars for revenue purposes. The City's Chief Administrative Officer, Miguel Santana, responded by saying they have a thick book of ideas that includes taxing oil drilling (remember, the Los Angeles region is the third biggest oil field in the country) and billboards. However, to implement most taxes, it must be passed by two-thirds of voters, said Santana. Koretz scoffed, predicting most voters wouldn't mind sticking it to the corporations. "It wouldn't be a hard sell," he said.