Lockyer delivers unwelcome message

State treasure underscore's governor's determination to kill redevelopment agencies.

March 04, 2011|By Gretchen Meier and Bill Kisliuk,,

California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer delivered some disheartening news to a small group of local officials Thursday night: Local redevelopment agencies are all but dead.

Officials in Burbank and Glendale have joined with other local governments to protest Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to dissolve redevelopment agencies, sending an estimated $1.7 billion to state coffers. Local officials have argued that the move would take away an important development tool. Brown and state legislators say the agencies keep revenue away from schools and other services.

But Lockyer’s message to less than a dozen local lawmakers, teachers and officials gathered in the auditorium at Luther Middle School in Burbank on Thursday night was clear. Brown’s proposal would prevail.


“This argument is over,” Lockyer said.

The state budget briefing was set up by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who earlier that day in Sacramento took part in a party-line vote in a joint Assembly and Senate conference committee to approve Brown’s budget plan, including the elimination of redevelopment agencies. The Assembly and Senate are expected to vote next week.

Following passage by voters of Proposition 22 last fall, the state is prohibited from transferring money from one account — redevelopment agencies — to another, such as education, leaving the governor no legal alternative but to shut down the departments, Lockyer said.

“We only had two options legally: shut redevelopment agencies down or do nothing,” he said. “There was no way they would voluntarily contribute to the state deficit.”

The news was greeted less than enthusiastically by local officials.

“It is so disappointing when state representatives think local funds belong to them and drag it into Sacramento’s black hole,” Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird said. “I am hoping they will vote against this and I am expecting our elected representatives to put up a fight.”

League of California Cities officials disagree with Brown’s interpretation of Prop. 22. They have called the plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies unconstitutional and plan to file a lawsuit if Brown’s proposal is approved by the state Legislature, League spokeswoman Eva Spiegel said.

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