Carl DeMaio votes against $714 million in taxpayer savings

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The City of San Diego finalized a major deal with city employees this week, compromising on a plan to reform health benefits that's projected to save the city $714 million. That's a whole lot of relief for taxpayers, and a giant step towards fixing the long-term health of the budget.

It might be expected that a self-styled budget hawk and taxpayer advocate like Carl DeMaio would support such a deal, but he didn't. Carl DeMaio opposed the deal to save the city's taxpayers more than $700 million. Why? Because according to DeMaio it isn't good enough and saving $700 million is too expensive. He was so committed to this notion in fact that he was willing to let taxpayers lose out on more than $700 million in concessions from city employees.

He's opposed to the principle of city employees having any portion of their healthcare covered by the city, which is certainly interesting compared to his position on what taxpayers *should* be in the business of subsidizing, like lawbreakers and developers. It might seem strange unless you consisder that the steady, responsible steps that are fixing the city's budget undermine Carl DeMaio's whole pitch: that only he can fix the budget. Doesn't really work if the budget gets fixed over his objections.

This is just the latest in a pattern though of course. Carl DeMaio has spent years building his entire political platform around the dire state of the city's finances. And in the meantime, he has opposed, over and over again, the efforts to balance the city's budget. He opposed $70 million in savings by eliminating vacant positions. He called $1.2 million in new annual revenue that could have funded a fire truck company "chump change." Despite DeMaio's dire pronouncements, the city's deficit is nearly closed thanks to an improving pension system, and his response is to oppose $714 million dollars in savings for the city's taxpayers.

Now that all of these changes that DeMaio opposed are adding up to a solution, he's stuck. He proposed an extreme plan to overhaul the city's budget and repeatedly opposed small, steady reforms that are adding up to success. So all he seems able to do is to keep opposing the solution because it wasn't his solution. Just this week, it was a $714 million predicament for him, and DeMaio chose himself instead of taxpayers. That isn't a taxpayer advocate; That's a Carl DeMaio advocate. And so far the city doesn't have much to show for Carl DeMaio advocating for himself.

Sure, all these fixes are bad deals for his personal political prospects, but Carl DeMaio wasn't elected to watch out for himself. And the last thing San Diego needs is a mayor who's more concerned about winning than with getting the best possible deal for taxpayers.