Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell hosts 3rd Annual Budget Town Hall

February 02, 2013

Los Angeles – On February 2nd nearly a hundred people participated in a 2 ½ hour exercise organized by Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) to discuss and choose by secret vote a “recommended” budget for the state of California. Held at the Iman Cultural Center in the Palms section of her district, this was the third time in three years that Mitchell hosted an interactive program designed to give constituents and community stakeholders an understanding of the state’s complex budget process and the challenge state legislators face in setting fiscal priorities during California’s period of economic decline and shrunken state revenues. The audience was invited to raise questions and ideas throughout the event.

“The budget reflects what Californians value enough to raise and spend money on,” said Assemblywoman Mitchell. “I want the community to hear the options and speak its mind.”

The program began with the distribution of handheld ballot devices and an explanation by Sarah Henry of Next10 of how the audience would “debate and vote” on ways of raising, allocating and/or saving funds for the various obligations and programs the state undertakes annually. Using PowerPoint slides, competing options were presented for taxing and spending state’s revenues on such items as education, construction and maintenance, health care, social services, prisons, personnel and environmental resources. Votes were also taken on options for raising or lowering taxes and fees, issuing bonds, and maintaining a “rainy day fund” for emergencies. Told that the budget must constitutionally be balanced, those present voted to achieve that end by, among other things, reducing expenditures on prisons, increasing spending for education, healthcare and social services.

Presentations about the state’s financial condition, budgetary obligations and identified needs were given by government experts and organizational advocates. Panelists included Antoinette Dozier of the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Kim Pattillo Brownson of the Advancement Project, Gerardo Pinedo of L.A. County’s Department of Health Services, Angelica Solis of the Alliance for a Better Community and Francesca Vega of Cal State Northridge.

CONTACT: Charles Stewart, 310/342-1070 office