The California State Association of Counties, whose support Gov. Jerry Brown has relied upon since taking office last year, immediately slammed a Democratic plan Wednesday to take $250 million that had gone to local governments under deals with now-defunct redevelopment agencies.
Counties had long-standing "pass-through" agreements with redevelopment agencies to receive a share of property tax dollars each year. CSAC Executive Director Paul McIntosh said Wednesday that past agreements are still legally valid and should still be upheld.
"I'm not sure how they can suspend legally binding agreements on contracts," McIntosh said Wednesday of Democratic lawmakers. CSAC sent a letter (PDF) this afternoon to the Legislature expressing its opposition.
Brown did not include the $250 million in his budget. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he believes the money should be divided up like any other property tax dollars among schools and local governments. He said counties have benefited generally by the elimination of redevelopment agencies, suggesting they should not complain about this loss of funds.
California's budget benefits by any additional dollars that go to schools because it reduces the state's burden. Lawmakers will not pass a bill stating that this money is theirs, but just assume it as one revenue source that helps erase the $15.7 billion deficit.
"This occurs by operation of law," said Steinberg, an attorney. "We don't take an affirmative act to appropriate the money. That's what occurs."
McIntosh said counties have already included this money in their budgets for the next fiscal year. He said Yolo County, for instance, had an agreement for $5.5 million, equal to nearly one-tenth of its $56 million general fund.