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L.A. County leaders protest state budget cuts

June 12, 2009 | 12:38 pm

Local leaders gathered on the steps of the downtown Los Angeles County building this morning to protest state budget cuts expected later this month.

“All we’re saying is hands off local services,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, surrounded by a crowd of about 40 that included Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and the county’s Chief Executive, William T. Fujioka.

Lois Gaston, president of California Contract Cities, said they cannot afford to bail out the state. Already, she said half of the 44 contract cities have declared a state of financial hardship due to the economic downturn.

“Local government has a message for Sacramento,” Gaston said, “The credit card has expired.”

Earlier this week, county officials announced plans to cut an additional 2% from all department budgets due to declining tax revenues. Budget talks are still underway today, but Yaroslavsky said he expects the county can continue to avoid layoffs -- unless state leaders make massive cuts.

“If the cuts are deep enough, you can’t avoid layoffs,” Yaroslavsky said. “The lion’s share of our costs are labor costs.”

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske