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Sen. Elaine Alquist of Santa Clara is jumping into a fight between the 49ers football team and education leaders in her Bay Area community by writing a bill that would allocate $30 million in disputed redevelopment funds toward building a new NFL stadium.

The bill marks the third time in recent years that California lawmakers have written custom legislation at the end of session to advance football stadium projects. Last year, the Legislature approved a bill that provided a speedy environmental review process for a new stadium in Los Angeles. A 2009 bill protected a proposed stadium in the City of Industry from environmental lawsuits.

Alquist's bill is fallout from Gov. Jerry Brown's decision last year to dissolve redevelopment agencies. Santa Clara's redevelopment agency had planned to give $30 million toward the $1.2 billion effort to build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. A county oversight committee created after the redevelopment agency folded decided last month not to use the money for the stadium and instead give it to schools.

"All of the redevelopment agency's agreements to provide this important funding predate the law that dissolved the redevelopment program. In fact, the planning for the stadium project started back in 2007. And the county and oversight board should have understood and honored this. Unfortunately, they didn't, and the oversight board's June 22nd action to take the funding away required an immediate legislative response," Alquist said in a statement.

She is gutting Senate Bill 1245, which concerns teacher credentialing, and rewriting it with language that says the redevelopment agency's committment of funds for the Santa Clara stadium is an "enforceable obligation." The football team has also sued the county to get the money back.

Members of the oversight committee told the Mercury News they have authority to use the $30 million for local schools. The paper quoted oversight board member Bobbie Plough, who is also superintendent of the Santa Clara Unified School District, saying, "We need that money to balance our budget."

Sacramentans may remember Plough as the former superintendent of Natomas Unified.


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