Did the Voters Give a Thumbs Up to Redevelopment by Passing Proposition 22?

March 2, 2011

The Governor’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies in order to help balance the 2011-12 state budget and provide more funding for core local services has naturally generated a firestorm of opposition from redevelopment  agencies and the – mostly – cities that created them. Redevelopment diverts property taxes from schools, counties, and other local governments, ostensibly to eliminate “blight,” but does not increase “regional or statewide economic development,” according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. What’s more, property taxes diverted from schools must be made up with state General Fund dollars – at a cost of more than $2 billion per year.

Cities and redevelopment agencies have fought back by implying that the Governor’s proposal ignores the will of the voters who passed Proposition 22, an extremely complicated measure filled with arcane legalese in which redevelopment was just one of many issues raised. These groups state that, “over 61% of voters passed Prop. 22 [last] November to stop State raids of redevelopment funds.” Really? As Ventura County Star columnist Timm Herdt points out, the official ballot argument in favor of Proposition 22 said nothing about redevelopment. Instead, the measure’s proponents highlighted the need to protect funding for police, fire, and other local services from “state raids” – precisely the services that would benefit from the Governor’s proposal to end redevelopment. According to Herdt: “In the 463 words of the cities’ ballot argument in favor of Proposition 22, ‘911 service’ is mentioned five times, ‘fire protection’ four times, ‘police service’ four times and ‘senior services’ twice. ‘Redevelopment’ – which pays for none of those things – was mentioned not at all.”

In Herdt’s view, “to argue that voters gave a mandate to protecting redevelopment is dishonest and silly.” We couldn’t agree more.

— Scott Graves

What’s Next for California?

November 5, 2010

In a post in the New York Times’ Room for Debate forum today, CBP Executive Director Jean Ross examines how Tuesday’s election outcomes will influence the state’s uniquely dysfunctional budget process.

On Tuesday, voters gave the thumbs up to Proposition 25, which reduces the votes needed to pass a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority. At the same time, voters also reduced the flexibility the Legislature needs to achieve a balanced budget solution by passing Propositions 22 and 26. How is the Governor-elect going to close the current shortfall, currently at $10 billion and counting? As Jean writes, the answers won’t come easy. But voter education and engagement need to be part of the solution. Polls, including this recent one by the Pew Center on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California, show many voters’ perceptions of the budget and state spending don’t jive with reality. As Jean writes, “Voters need to understand that without additional revenues, schools and other public structures essential to healthy communities and a vibrant economy will deteriorate. With adequate investments, California’s best days are yet to come.”

Read the full text of the Room for Debate blog post here.

— Lisa Gardiner

Proposition 22: A Preliminary Review

August 12, 2010

Proposition 22, which will appear on the November 2 ballot, would amend the state Constitution to eliminate the state’s ability to borrow or shift local revenues as well as certain state revenues that fund transportation programs. The CBP has prepared an easy-to-read table that compares current law to the changes proposed by Proposition 22. We’ll release a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks. The CBP neither supports nor opposes Proposition 22.

— Scott Graves

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