‘… service levels have been reduced in every department and nearly 200 people lost their jobs.’

Statement: “… service levels have been reduced in every department and nearly 200 people lost their jobs,” City Council President Ben Hueso said about the city’s most recent budget cuts in his State of District 8 speech Feb. 4.

Determination: False

Analysis: This type of statement has been an ongoing issue with City Hall leaders. At various times, they have talked about job layoffs as their only way to deal with San Diego’s chronic budget deficits.

In his speech, Hueso was talking specifically about efforts in December to correct a $179 million shortfall. And he was talking about how hard that was.

But eliminating a position in an annual budget and laying people off are completely different. When the city cuts a position, workers can transfer to other city jobs.

Most of the time, politicians make clear they’re talking about eliminating positions. Hueso went further this time, though. He said “nearly 200 people lost their jobs.”

That’s just not true.

When he gave the talk, it wasn’t even clear how many people would lose their jobs. Labor unions and city management were still negotiating.

It’s clear now, though. I asked the Mayor’s Office for the numbers. Only 167 workers have been affected by the budget cuts and only 23 of them have actually been laid off. Yes, 23 people lost their jobs — not 200.

Seven people who got pink slips decided to retire. Another 88 were demoted. And 49 were put into other city jobs and are getting the same salary they had before.

Mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing said more positions cuts will take effect July 1.

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