With San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders delivering his fifth State of the City Address this evening, here’s a multiple choice question for San Diego City Hall watchers.

In what State of the City address did Sanders utter this statement:

For years, unrealistic budgets have hidden the fact that expenditures exceeded the budget by tens of millions of dollars each year. Were it not for the robust growth in city revenues, the financial picture would be far worse.

A) 2006. The speech where Sanders excoriated past administrations’ failures and cut a broad fiscal reform agenda that included proposals of up to 10 percent cuts in all city departments — save police and fire — streamlining city services and re-organizing city real estate assets. (Read our coverage of the 2006 speech here.)

B) 2007. The speech where Sanders proclaimed it would be his “year of action.” Here he planned to fund deteriorating city infrastructure, pay up reserves and pay down pension and retiree medical benefit liabilities. (Read our coverage of the 2007 speech here.)

C) 2008. The speech where Sanders touted plans to return to the municipal bond market, institute a new pension system for future hires and expand the city’s Convention Center. (Read our coverage of the 2008 speech here.)

D) 2009. The speech where Sanders celebrated cutting nearly 900 positions from the city’s employment rolls, implored City Council to implement a long-stalled outsourcing initiative and lamented the recession’s toll on the city’s bottom line. (Read our coverage of the 2009 speech here.)

Those who guessed “A” would be correct — though the “robust growth in city revenues” might have helped give it away. Your prize is a free ticket to Sanders’ 2010 State of the City speech at 6 p.m. tonight at Balboa Theater.

Sanders’ 2006 statement rings true today, as he faces pressure from all sides to fix a situation where expenditures have continue to exceed the budget by tens of millions of dollars.

The Office of the Independent Budget Analyst released a report last week laying out a plan for long-term budget reform that includes both service cuts and tax increases. A task force of Sanders’ private business confidants harped on the city’s continuing budget gaps. City Council has impaneled its own task force to examine city revenues. All these come after December’s decision to close an unprecedented $179 million budget gap primarily by relying on one-time fixes.

It will be interesting to see how much Sanders addresses fiscal matters — always the meat and potatoes portion of his annual speech — compared to the $2.5 billion in downtown building projects to which he’s at least lent his tacit support. A September speech before the San Diego County Taxpayers Association derided opponents who believed Sanders couldn’t solve the budget deficit while building a new downtown schoobrary and new city hall, expanding the Convention Center and addressing the city’s aging football stadium. (Since then, the Chargers and the city have begun considering a proposal for a new stadium downtown.)

Stay with us for updates throughout the day today and full coverage tonight, including live tweets from yours truly.

— LIAM DILLON

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