Lawmakers protest Brown's redevelopment money grab

January 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
California lawmakers are actively protesting against Gov. Jerry Brown for wanting to take away redevelopment money from cities and counties.

Brown's budget proposal has been subjected to acts of defiance lately, by opponents showing just what they think of his ideas.

Assem. Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Pines, posted a video denouncing the three-volume spending plan.

"You'll notice about it's about as tall as a Diet Coke. We think the budget needs to go on a diet. This is how much government we have. This is about how much we can afford [holds up a quarter of the stack]," says Donnelly.

He then shreds page after page, especially taking aim at the funding for the California Air Resources Board.

"What part of no don't they understand?" asks Chris McKenzie from the League of Cities.

Later, city leaders stood up against the governor, upset that he wants to defund redevelopment. Locals say they need that money to revitalize blighted neighborhoods and create jobs. They also point out a new constitutional amendment protects that money.

"We're infuriated that once again Sacramento is attempting to balance its budget by raiding local government funds," says McKenzie.

Redevelopment agencies throughout the state have been approving project after project, spending the money before Brown can take it for use in schools, public safety and social programs.

"Through redevelopment, we don't have the resources to support jobs. We build the economy, more taxes are paid. Services get paid for," says John Shirey from California Redevelopment Association.

"It's has been called, quite frankly, a subsidy for developers," says Jon Coupal from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Taxpayer groups think redevelopment money has been abused with politicians getting too cozy with developers.

While many projects are successful, Downtown San Jose, for instance, built a pavilion with theatres and restaurants in the 1990s and it flopped.

"Ninety percent of the cases don't involve a substantial effort to build low-income housing, but to build new shopping malls, new auto malls, new sports stadiums," says Coupal.

Brown is well aware of these acts of defiance. His office says everyone must set aside their turf wars and act as Californians to help solve the state's budget deficit.

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