LOS ANGELES – The immediate economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is without precedent in the history of our nation and the City of Los Angeles. More than a million of our neighbors across Los Angeles County have lost their jobs in the weeks since the economic effects of the pandemic first became apparent.
The seriousness of the virus, and the dramatic steps needed to help safeguard public safety, have taken a staggering toll on jobs, income, and financial security in our city. Now and in the coming months, city government must maintain a fierce commitment to preserve lives and also to preserve livelihoods.
As the Mayor’s proposed budget makes painfully clear, the catastrophic downturn in the local economy will in turn have a dramatic effect on the city’s revenues, and that inevitably will mean reductions in city services and staff. Still, we are fortunate that the City's robust reserves will provide a vital cushion. In the eight years that I have served as Budget Committee Chair, we saved the City from potential bankruptcy during the Great Recession by insisting upon fiscal responsibility and discipline.
As a result of those eight years of hard work, the City budget this year included emergency reserves that were the highest in the history of the City. Those reserves will be imperative now that we are experiencing this unprecedented time of crisis.
In the coming year, as we emerge from the health impacts of COVID-19, we must remain resolute in responding to the economic impacts as well. City Hall must focus on lifting people up, reinvigorating our small businesses, and getting Los Angeles back to work. As we succeed in doing so, our revenues will recover. In the meantime, we need to be responsible and disciplined in our budgeting to ensure the delivery of essential services, the elimination of structural deficits, the restoration of our reserves, and a sustainable future for the city’s finances.