SAN FRANCISCO — If San Jose decides in coming weeks to declare a fiscal state of emergency, it will open itself up to certain litigation.

Wrestling with an $80.5 million deficit in the coming year, the Bay Area city would be the latest public entity to turn to the controversial tactic to deal with spiraling personnel costs. Over the past two years, Stockton has used the emergency tool to freeze raises for police and firefighters. Los Angeles gave its mayor the green light to furlough public employees by passing an emergency ordinance. Outside of California, Harrisburg, Pa., and Flint, Mich., have made similar headlines.

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