Councilmembers expressed a great deal of frustration at yesterday’s meeting over the Governor’s proposal to borrow $2 billion from local governments to balance the State budget, talking mostly about how unfair it all is and how nobody knows about it. Okay. So I haven’t really written about this at all, mostly because I assume that my readers also read the newspaper, and therefore would all already be aware. But in case some of you somehow missed it, here’s the deal.
In November 2004, 83.7% of California voters said yes to Proposition 1A, which basically said that the State is no longer allowed to take local tax money away from local governments as a way of solving their own mess when they have budget problems. Under Proposition 1A, cities get to keep all their local property and sales tax money for themselves.
But, under Proposition 1A, if the Governor proclaims and two-thirds of the Legislature agrees, that the State is in a position of “several fiscal harship”, the State can borrow money from local governments, and they’re currently planning to do just that (PDF). They want to take 8% of the property tax revenue received by local governments, with a promise they’ll pay it back in a few years. Of course, given the impact of today’s economy on local government finances, it’s not like any city is really in a position to just give up millions of dollars, whether or not they’ll be getting it back a couple years from now.
As you might expect, the League of California Cities opposes the proposal, and is asking its members to pass a resolution (PDF) declaring a their own state of several fiscal hardship and opposing the State’s proposed seizing of local funds. 96 cities have done so already (Oakland is not yet among them. The Council’s Finance and Management Committee was scheduled to consider such a resolution (PDF) earlier this week, but continued the item until their June 9th meeting.).
So…this is completely unacceptable. Oakland, already facing a staggering budget deficit, simply cannot afford to send millions of dollars to Sacramento. And you can help stop it. First, everyone should write their State representatives immediately and say NO. If you live in Oakland, your Assemblymember is either Nancy Skinner or Sandre Swanson or Mary Hayashi. If you don’t know what district you’re in, you can find out here. Your State Senator is Loni Hancock. All three have e-mail forms you can use to contact them about this issue on the sidebar on the left side of their websites. You can also call their offices at the numbers below:
- Senator Loni Hancock, District 9: (916) 651-4009
- Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, District 16: (916) 319-2016
- Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, District 14: (916) 319-2014
- Assemblymember Mary Hayashi, District 18: (916) 319-2018
You can also voice your opposition to the proposal at the excellent website Save Your City. Save Your City is a coalition of citizens, businesses, and local organizations opposing the proposed State raid on local revenues. You can add your name to the list here, and if you are involved with any local community organizations, you should pass the site on to other members and ask them to join as well. It’s very easy to remember: saveyourcity.net. The site allows you to upload a video explaining your opposition to the proposal, and every uploaded video will be available on YouTube, and will also be sent to your legislators. Here are some sample videos:
The website already features videos from Alameda City Councilmember Lena Tam, San Leandro City Councilmember Michael Gregory, Emeryville City Councilmember Ken Bukowski, Orinda City Councilmember Tom McCormick, Orinda Mayor Sue Severson, El Cerrito City Councilmember Bill Jones, Walnut Creek City Councilmember Cindy Silvia, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Chowchilla Police Chief Jay Varney, Tustin Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Amante, Fontana City Councilmember Janice Rutherford, Pittsburg Mayor Nancy Parent, and over 200 other local officials throughout the State. There are no videos from anyone in Oakland. Let’s change that.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the State’s budget issues, here are my favorite sites for following what goes on in Sacramento:
Rough &Tumble: Your one stop shop for California politics headlines. Aggregates headlines from papers around the state. A necessary bookmark for anyone interested in following California politics.
The Sacramento Bee: The Bee has an excellent Capitol and California section, where you’ll find many of the best articles out there about the goings on in Sacramento. The Bee offers California Politics and State Budget RSS feeds.
Assemblymember Noreen Evans’s budget blog: I discovered this site from Becks’s post yesterday, and if you’re concerned about the Statebudget (which you should be), it’s another must-read. Evans chairs the Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee, and is posting daily updates on the State budget.
The California Report: Statewide radio news program from KQED radio. 9 minutes a day of what’s going on with the State, and a weekly half-hour in-depth program.
Capitol Weekly: Weekly newspaper about State politics.
CalBuzz: Insightful commentary (and some gossip) about California politics from former San Francisco Chronicle managing editor Jerry Roberts and former San Jose Mercury News political editor Phil Trounstine.
Calitics: Multiple daily posts about California politics, mostly commentary, some breaking news, and some news you won’t find elsewhere. The site is focused on “progressive” issues, which is a word I absolutely hate, but overall, it’s another must-read.
California Progress Report: Founded by Oakland attorney, current Chief of Staff to Assembly member Nancy Skinner and former Chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party, Frank Russo, this site offers commentary on State policy from a “progressive” (ugh, that word again) perspective.
Capital Notes: KQED Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers offers breaking news and frequent podcasts about State news. Really, really good site.