Italian mayors slam spending cuts

July 24, 2012 - 8:38 AM

ROME (AP) — Mayors from across Italy, holding up flags and wearing their tricolor sashes, demonstrated in front of the Italian Senate on Tuesday against spending cuts planned by the government.

"We have reached our limits," said Mayor Andrea Marchi of the northern town of Ostellato, echoing big city Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome about threats to public services.

The mayors planned to meet with Senate President Renato Schifani and the Cabinet minister for relations with parliament Piero Giarda.

Graziano Delrio, president of the association of Italian cities, says the cuts will be "lethal" for many cities and that it's not too late for the legislature to modify the government decree.

The government of Premier Mario Monti has said it is hoping to save a total of €26 billion ($31.7 billion) over the next three years with spending cuts in various sectors of government.

Monti, an economics professor named premier last November in a bid to shore up Italy's defenses against the European debt crisis, sought to avert another emergency Tuesday. He met with the governor of the autonomous region of Sicily and gave the go-ahead for a plan to prevent default. Sicily reportedly has a €5 billion black hole.

Monti's office said it took note of efforts by the regional government to cut back on salaries and health care costs and that a program of structural reforms would soon be unveiled.

Sicily's governor, Raffaele Lombardo, announced he would resign July 31 amid reports he otherwise would have been forced from office.