San Francisco’s $100 million burning question 

The City could face another $100 million in cuts if the state follows through with its latest budget proposal, which includes eliminating welfare and other social service programs that would affect thousands of San Francisco residents.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently unveiled his revised budget plan, showing that California’s deficit had grown, with revenue down $6.1 billion. The state is now projecting a more than $17 billion shortfall next fiscal year.

Mayor Gavin Newsom had already estimated a $40 million cut from state funding as he worked to close a $483 million budget gap for San Francisco. Now, it appears cuts will go much deeper under the state’s most recent budget proposal, said Greg Wagner, Newsom’s budget adviser.

The biggest hit would come to the 4,700 households that rely on CalWorks, the state’s welfare-to-work program, Wagner said. In addition, San Francisco would lose more than $30 million in state funds for mental health services. Already, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health has proposed shaving more than $105 million from its budget with a combination of new revenue and cuts.

“When the state cuts its program, we have a history of finding a way to step in locally and pick up the slack,” Wagner said. “But when they are talking about proposals on this scale, we wouldn’t have the resources to pick up the slack.”

But local budget leaders have noted that the buzz in Sacramento is that Schwarzenegger’s current plan for devastating cuts won’t pass muster among lawmakers.

“The strategy is to get shocking proposals that jar everyone into coming up with a better solution,” Wagner said.

The mayor has until June 1 — a week from Tuesday — to submit a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors. At that time, Newsom will outline the details of his proposed cuts, Wagner said. So far, Newsom has relied on labor concessions, amounting to $200 million during the next two fiscal years, to help close the budget deficit.

He’s still negotiating a wage cut of 4.62 percent with the fire and police unions, which could amount to $20 million annually, budget officials said.

“I think it would be nice if there would be some acknowledgement of what the state has taken from the county to underscore the challenges we have in terms of balancing our budgets,” Newsom said recently.

Budget losses

$483 million The City’s budget shortfall

$40 million Original projected budget cuts from state

$100 million Revised projected budget cuts from state

4,700 San Francisco households that would lose access to CalWorks

Source: Mayor’s Office


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