Local leaders tally possible "fiscal cliff" losses in California
With the clock ticking on federal budget negotiations, cities and states across the country are increasingly voicing their concerns that deadlock in Washington will produce damaging consequences.
A Los Angeles coalition of community, labor and business groups addressed a letter to eight senators on Tuesday urging them to reach a deal by the end of the year to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a collection of tax hikes and spending cuts that could slide the country into another recession.
The letter, sent by the L.A. Jobs Defense Council, said an impasse would reduce funds for early childhood education, HIV/AIDS testing and defense contracts. The council was formed in August by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation to advocate for the region and urge federal leaders to quickly resolve budget problems in Washington.
“Here in Southern California, the impacts of these draconian, forced spending cuts will affect almost every aspect of life for our residents and communities,” the letter says. “Bear in mind that Southern California represents the heart of the nation’s aerospace and other defense-related industries.”
The letter was sent to a bipartisan group of senators, including Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who have been playing a key role in negotiations on Capitol Hill.
It also chides federal representatives for acting “somewhat patronizingly” when attempting to assure local officials.
“Talk is cheap,” the letter says. “Pacifying words won’t stop the pink slips.”
In addition, 400,000 Californians who have been out of work for more than six months could lose their unemployment benefits, Marc Lifsher reported in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times. Residents will start receiving notices this week that their benefits, which can reach $450 a week, may end by the end of the year.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill earlier this month. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press