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Cities resist state taking redevelopment funds

January 21, 2011 9:21:58 PM PST
A protest Friday against Governor Jerry Brown's plan to cut off the flow of money for local redevelopment. Business leaders, labor leaders and politicians say that would cause more harm than good. There are warnings that several hundred thousand jobs would be lost. Brown has met with various groups, telling them that everyone must share in the sacrifice. People are mad that they're either not getting any state money, or that someone else got too much.

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

State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Claremont) posted a video denouncing the three-volume spending plan.

He shreds page after page on an online video, especially taking aim at the funding for the California Air Resources Board.

Later, city leaders stood up against the governor, upset that he wants to de-fund 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," said Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities.

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 support jobs, we build the economy, more taxes are paid, services get paid for," said John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association.

"It's has been called, quite frankly, a subsidy for developers," said Jon Coupal, president of 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 theaters and restaurants in the 1990s, and it flopped.

"About 90 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," said 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.