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Commentary: Congratulations and Condolences to New County Exec

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 24, 2011

Brad Hudson, welcome to Sacramento. You have our sympathy. You've taken on the toughest job in the region. As county executive you will have to maintain basic services in the face of steeply declining revenues.

There are no easy fixes, no hidden cache of money, not even a rainy day fund. In fact, things are so dire that if the county's credit rating slips much further (which it could), and the bond holders demand immediate repayment (which they have a right to do), the county wouldn't have the cash to pay them.

To produce the illusion of a balanced budget, supervisors just made big cuts to the sheriff, district attorney and probation. Child protective services, mental health and county parks have all taken big hits. The budget relies on one-time money and internal borrowing, and it lacks a raining day fund.

To get the county's finances in order, you must negotiate more concessions from unions - hard to  do. To keep basic services in place you may need more contracting out - that's even harder: it would require a charter change. Has anyone explained 71-J to you Mr. Hudson? That's the charter provision that makes contracting out in our county so difficult.

There's more bad news but I'm out of time. Welcome to Sacramento, and good luck. You'll need it.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.

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