As the capitol of the Silicon Valley, San José must strive to be a leader in innovation and a place where new technologies are applied to better the lives of residents. At a bare minimum, citizens of San José should be able to rely on the services that the City has chosen to provide and the standard of living it has set. In recent years, this has not been the case.
The Great Recession of 2008 brought the American economy to the brink of collapse. It revealed that federal, state, and municipal governments – San José included – had for years been operating beyond its means. As the Great Recession hit, San José’s finances began to unravel under the weight of its unfunded liabilities and the City was forced to tighten its belt, to the detriment of residents and City employees. Library hours were reduced, much-needed infrastructure improvements were postponed, and funding for after-school programs evaporated.
After some tough decisions and contentious reforms, San José has recently begun to right its finances. But San José still has a long way to go before it can once again provide the full range of services it once did for residents. Moving forward, the City should endeavor to restore basic services and beyond that, fund projects and programs that reflect our values as a city. The decision to fund such programs and services should be seen as a commitment to residents to improve their quality of life.
As stewards of the public’s money, the City Council should make every effort to ensure that money is spent wisely and cost-effectively. Annual budgets should be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb, and each proposed expense should be justified yearly, rather than automatically approved because it was previously funded. In this way, ineffective programs are weeded out and money is freed up to fund more deserving expenses.
The City of San José should be able to pass on to future generations a strong foundation upon which they can build their own success. We cannot kick the can down the road and burden our children with debts and unfunded liabilities. To ensure that San José is a strong city now and in the future, I will work with the Council to implement policies that create a fiscally sustainable city.