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Statement: “The cities and the counties in recent years have had to live within their means, so they’ve been cutting back at the same time the bureaucracy in Sacramento has continued to grow. The number of (state) employees have continued to grow,” National City Mayor Ron Morrison said at a Feb. 25 panel discussion about redevelopment issues.

Determination: True

Analysis: Morrison has been one of the region’s most outspoken opponents of the governor’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies, criticizing the push on radio shows, at press conferences, in newspapers and at panel discussions.

National City, just south of downtown San Diego, has the highest unemployment rate in the county, and Morrison says it can’t afford to lose redevelopment, which aims to reduce blighted areas by subsidizing public works and other construction projects. Keeping redevelopment keeps the construction jobs, Morrison says.

On the other side, Gov. Jerry Brown argues that California taxpayers can’t afford to continue paying for the redevelopment subsidies while governments across the state face budget problems. His proposal would dissolve the agencies and divert the property taxes they get to other local government coffers. It would send more local money to schools, easing the state’s responsibly to ultimately fund them.

Since eliminating redevelopment would help the state’s budget, Morrison and other critics have pointed to other areas where the state could cut funding and spare redevelopment. At a Feb. 25 panel discussing redevelopment, Morrison took aim at the state’s workforce.

The cities and the counties in recent years have had to live within their means, so they’ve been cutting back at the same time the bureaucracy in Sacramento has continued to grow. The number of employees have continued to grow.

We didn’t check every city and county in the state, but Morrison’s comparison at least accurately describes National City and the state. While the state increased the number of employees over recent years, the size of National City’s workforce declined.

For sure, the state and National City are vastly different in size and scope, but whether their workforces grew or shrunk speaks to the strength of Morrison’s argument against eliminating redevelopment. He said cities have cut back more than the state and shouldn’t be burdened by the state’s problems through losing redevelopment.

The number of state employees fluctuated slightly over the last five years, increasing overall to 357,000 this year. Brown’s proposed budget for next year would reduce the number by 1 percent, but it would still be higher than two years ago.

By comparison, National City has reduced the size of its workforce by 15 percent over the same five-year period to 341 filled positions this year. The number of budgeted positions actually grew, but the city didn’t fund them all.

Although the state reduced the number of employees last year and plans to cut the size of its workforce next year, we’ve called the statement True since the overall trajectory in recent years has been more state employees.

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

A friendly hat tip on this Fact Check goes to Union-Tribune reporter Wendy Fry, who covered the Feb. 25 redevelopment panel and provided a transcript of Morrison’s statement upon our request. Thanks, Wendy.

What claim should we Fact Check next? Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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