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Statement: “I’m going to make just a real general comment because I really believe this. All the years I have been involved with city government for the amount of people we have in the city and the amount of budget that we have — as our city grows, our budget has not grown proportionately,” City Council President Ben Hueso said at an Oct. 4 council meeting.

Determination: Misleading

Analysis: Debate over Proposition D, which would approve a half-cent sales tax increase citywide, has been contentious in the weeks leading up to next week’s election.

On Oct. 4, the City Council met to consider recommendations on how the city should spend the money generated by the tax increase, along with cost cutting measures it should take, to solve the city’s long-standing financial problems.

The council endorsed the recommendations by a vote of 6 to 2, with Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio, the council’s two Republicans, voting against it after harshly criticizing the need and effectiveness of the tax.

But as Council President, Hueso had the last word. In defending the need for the tax increase and urging the other members to endorse the Mudd report, Hueso said the city’s budget had not grown proportionate to the city’s population. He was effectively making the case that the city was now spending less per resident than in previous years, yet again highlighting the need for Prop D. revenue.

But that argument didn’t hold up when we looked at the data.

Since 1990, the city’s day-to-day operating budget has grown proportionately to the city’s population. But per capita spending, adjusted for inflation, has actually increased during the last 20 years.

Here’s a breakdown of the past two decades in five-year intervals:

Since Hueso said the budget had not grown proportionately, the argument could be made that he was technically correct. It’s grown disproportionately, but not in the direction Hueso was implying. So we’ve called the statement misleading.

We first requested an interview with Hueso about this Fact Check on Thursday. His spokeswoman, Michelle Ganon, said he was unavailable to comment, but believed Hueso was referring to the impact the city’s budget deficits have had on its ability to provide and maintain services — it has cut police and library services and the failed to construct new park space to accommodate its growing population.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

You can also e-mail new Fact Check suggestions to factcheck@voiceofsandiego.org. What claim should we explore next?

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido.

Adrian Florido

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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