The rhetoric needs to stop. Threatening a ballot measure to exact additional pension reform and that would be found unenforceable -- which the City Attorney has reminded several times -- may make some feel good but will not bring the results touted. Instead of chest pounding, the City needs real structural changes in the way we budget and spend money.
The only way we are really going to get any budget reform is to utilize a "zero based" budgeting process -- requiring every department to start from zero each budget year and build the budget by need and not simply add on to the previous budget. In theory, the organization’s entire budget needs to be justified and approved, rather than just the incremental change from the prior year. We need to stop making last year’s budget the starting point for the next budget. Zero based budgeting also allows the city to layout different levels of service so that real choices can be made as to what the city should and can afford to provide. It also helps answer the question: which services should really be funded? Instead of the usual answer: we should fund the ones we funded the year before, it makes elected and managers fund those services that are needed and justifiable.