Despite a self-imposed deadline of March 10, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday requested that the Legislature delay their scheduled Thursday vote to give him more time to negotiate a deal.
The Governor has been meeting five Republican Senators in an attempt to negotiate an agreement which would lead to the passage of a budget that would include the placement of state tax extensions before the voters at a June special election. The senators involved in these discussions include: Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto), Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Bill Emmerson (R-Riverside), and Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach).
Earlier in the week, the Republican Senators sent a letter to the Governor expressing their frustration with the lack of progress on issues they had raised with the Governor, and which included demands for pension reform, a cap on future state spending and regulatory reforms. Also included in the letter was their expressed desire to reform rather than eliminate redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones. The letter is posted online.
The League and the California Redevelopment Association continue to lobby hard against the effort to eliminate redevelopment agencies. In addition to pointing out the major constitutional problems with the Governor’s proposal, local agencies continue to impress upon their legislators the dire local consequences of such an action on their communities. Outreach to legislators continues via press conferences, radio and print advertising, and social media in addition to traditional lobbying. The state’s “Big 10” mayors also weighed in with a strong letter in opposition, which is also posted online.
As the week concluded, discussions swirled with potential alternatives to the Governor’s proposal. Some proposals advance the concept of elimination, followed by “reconstituting” agencies with different roles and objectives. Others attempt to salvage housing funds, or include complicated securitization proposals. The League and California Redevelopment Association continue to oppose all proposals which would eliminate of agencies or be unconstitutional under Proposition 22 or other provisions.
The California Redevelopment Association has conveyed to legislators they are committed to responding to perceived misuses of redevelopment authority, such as those cited in recent reports and press accounts, by proposing reforms to prevent future abuses and better position agencies to address important policy priorities. Opportunities for such reforms will only exist if agencies are not eliminated.
The League also remains in strong opposition to the proposed elimination of Enterprise Zones which are critical to attracting and retaining jobs in economically depressed areas. As with proposals to eliminate redevelopment, there are many legal problems associated with the state attempting to break faith with affected businesses and local agencies. Representatives of businesses and local agencies continue to lobby for the preservation of this valuable tool, and have also offered various reforms to address concerns voiced over this program.
Budget negotiations will continue over the weekend. Floor votes could occur as soon as Monday, but more likely later in the week. Timing is important. The Governor’s plan relies on a June election to extend the taxes that which would otherwise expire July 1. If the taxes are allowed to expire they will be considered “new taxes” which would further complicate the prospects for securing potential Republican votes as well as messaging to the voters.
Local officials should continue their efforts to persuade legislators to not vote for any budget which includes the elimination of redevelopment agencies or enterprise zones.