California Redevelopment Agencies Forced to Share Millions With Low-Income Schools?
Updated after the jump: Redevelopment honchos aren't going to take this sitting down.
Budget-butchering California Governor Jerry Brown watched angrily the last few months as the state's rogue redevelopment agencies launched last-ditch efforts to preserve millions of dollars in profits and projects -- anticipating that Brown would stamp them out altogether come June.
But the state Legislature, likely urged into fast action by the governor himself, has taken a different route:
Under Assembly Bill 101 approved today, the agencies will have to share the property taxes they collect from buildings in "blighted" areas of the city with local school districts. (That is, if it's signed by Brown -- but his denial would be very unexpected, this late in budget talks.) For San Diego, that means roughly $40 million, or half the agency's income, would go to schoolkids. Genius.
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We've contacted the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for their exact numbers; check back for updates. But yeah -- this would be huge.
Some more background on the Jerry Brown vs. redevelopment war: "In Criminal Scheme to Skirt California Law, L.A. 'Community Redevelopment Agency' Only Reminds Us Why It Should Be Toppled."
Update: The league of redevelopment agencies (OK, not actually called that, but they're slimy enough to warrant a mob moniker) is already declaring a legal battle against the state if Brown has the audacity to sign the bill through. Because what could be more awful than narrowing the achievement gap by allowing local school kids access to rising property taxes in their own neighborhoods?
The "unconstitutional" bill, argues the CRA, should be replaced with a plan that lets each agency choose how much it wants to give away. (Really?)
"A slim majority of legislators has unfortunately voted to kill one of California's only job-creating engines and robbed local communities of the ability to address high unemployment, poverty, crime, and other problems," says executive director John Shirey in a press release. (Of course, there's no proof that any of those things would occur if the agencies were abolished -- or, under the new bill, merely forced to shared their profits -- but that's not Shirey's concern.)
Our biggest remaining question mark: Is there still a way for the government to get at the $1 billion squirreled away by the L.A. CRA into the City Council's general fund, in anticipation of this grab? Or is it lost forever in the council's black hole, where libraries and city buses go to die?
If you've got the gut for it, we recommend curling up fireside tonight (seriously, what is up with this weather) and studying Assembly Bill 101 in full. Come on -- do it for the children.