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12
Feb 2011
More library funding? Yes. Budgeting end-runs? No.

In a city with serious financial shortfalls, there’s no doubt that tough decisions have to be made. That’s what the Los Angeles City Council members have been elected to do - make those tough decisions in the best interest of the people they serve. But they have to be made the right way and “budgeting by ballot box” creates more problems than it solves.

Our opposition to the well-intentioned but short-sighted Measure L has garnered some attention that ridiculously casts the police union against libraries and children, with some saying it’s a “typical me-first attitude” and “If you give them a choice between themselves and children, they're going to choose themselves." These malicious and offensive comments clearly aim to cloud the issue and divert the focus of our opposition.

It’s not about libraries – it’s about the budget process. The measure, up for voter approval on March 8th, proposes to lock up additional funds for a single purpose. And that’s exactly what it’ll do: lock up money through a mandate that it be spent only on libraries, regardless of what emergency needs might arise or how the financial picture might change down the road.

More money for libraries is a good thing. Now, what Measure L proponents should do is find ways of funding the increase they’re creating this end-run for. Finding a source to bankroll increased library funding is the responsible way to back this important municipal service, and also the way to ensure that other essential services don’t have to be cut further to accommodate the mandate.

Since it appears that this measure will pass, the League has simply gone on record to warn residents that they should expect to see further reductions in other areas of priority such as police and fire services, parks and recreation, and street services.

We aren’t against libraries or their patrons. We’re against end-runs that circumvent the proper budgeting process, which is after all, the job our city council has been elected and is well paid to do.

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