Senator Huff: New State Budget Extorts Money from Local Governments

Press Release posted 7/14/12 – SACRAMENTO: Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) says he’s deeply troubled by new and unexpected developments that are now emerging from one of the 11th-hour state budget “trailer” bills passed by the Democrat-dominated California Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.  One of the trailer bills in question, AB 1484, directs counties to take money from cities.

Without warning, the State of California has given cities in the 29th Senate District a three-day notice to pay millions of dollars in newly calculated fees. The sudden and unexpected “demand for payment” also carries a threat that any delay in payment will result in additional late fees.

“Brea city officials informed my office that they received a bill for more than $15.5 million,” said Senator Huff. The City of Walnut reports that they received a bill for $3.9 million, while the City of La Verne confirms it has received a payment demand of near $1.9 million. “They had three days to pay the bill or incur penalties that can amount to 10% or more. In Brea’s case that’s $1.5 million. This is unacceptable.”

The eye-popping bills are the result of actions taken in 2011, when legislative Democrats abolished California’s 400 redevelopment agencies in a vain effort to close the state budget gap. Their action left agencies and local governments scrambling to pay their outstanding obligations.

This year, to pour salt in that still-fresh wound, Democrats passed another bill demanding repayment of some previously distributed redevelopment funds. This week, the Department of Finance directed the counties to waste no time in calculating the bills, sending them with notices that the full amount, in some cases millions of dollars, must be paid within three days or incur severe financial penalties.

On July 12th, even while some local agencies were attempting to question the amounts or negotiate lower payments, the Governor, via the Department of Finance, issued a letter stating that the previous demands for payment will not be reduced.

“I question the wisdom of this move,” said Senator Huff. “Local services have been cut. Firefighters and police officers have been let go due to local budget shortfalls. Three California cities have already been forced into bankruptcy and more may be headed in that direction. The last thing our communities need is a state government literally balancing its budget on the backs of local government.”