With a budget deficit this deep, and the economic climate this bad, it may be more than surprising to find out that the city of Phoenix is giving out $30 million in raises.
A new 2 percent grocery tax has been put into place, a 1 percent sales tax is being considered, and many services have been scaled back or cut. And in the middle of all of this, people who work for the city are getting some big raises.
Phoenix city councilman Sal DiCiccio says that's wrong. He can't believe that city employees are getting a bump in pay when the rest of us are so bad off.
"I think that's wrong, the public has been asked to sacrifice, the public is taking cuts to their own salaries, people losing homes and jobs, their businesses are being boarded up," says DiCiccio.
About half of the city's workforce, 7,000 people, will be getting a slight salary increase in next year's budget. Altogether, the amount of pay increases reach $30 million.
But the city says these are merit raises, given to workers who prove themselves to be invaluable to the city -- and they were negotiated by labor unions.
A city representative defended the salary increases in the following statement: "This system benefits the city by paying employees more as the employees become more valuable through training and experience and become a more productive employee."
DiCiccio says the city shouldn't be giving raises at all, when they're raising taxes on groceries.
While some city employees will get that pay raise, there still have been sacrifices. Every city worker has been forced to take a pay cut of just over 3 percent. That was part of an agreement between the city and the unions. Still, DiCiccio says, based on the city's budget predicament and the way families are suffering, that isn't enough.