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Portantino swings toward Brown proposal

March 18, 2011

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) was alone among the state’s Democrats Wednesday when he voted against Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to gut the state’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies. But after a meeting with the governor, Portantino’s “nay” turned into an “aye,” leaving the governor a single vote shy of the minimum to pass the measure.

“I initially held off because I wanted to continue to fight for local government,” Portantino said Friday.

He said he sought changes, such as granting cities more power over the disposition of assets — the Alex Theatre, parking lots and other properties the Glendale Redevelopment Agency owns, for example – than is called for under the governor’s current proposal.

The redevelopment vote is one of the biggest pieces of unfinished budget business in Sacramento. Cities are waging a full-tilt battle to stop or soften the bill, which they say will undermine local governments by redirecting $5 billion in property tax revenue now used to generate new business and build affordable housing. Brown has said the agencies drain resources from schools and counties and questions their effectiveness as job generators.


Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) said he believes the redevelopment measure will pass, and that later this year, legislation will be enacted to revive the agencies, albeit with a reduced share of the state’s property tax revenues.

“There is strong legislative will to reconstitute redevelopment later this year, with good features, like generating economic activity downtown, but without bad features, such as taking money from schools,” Gatto said.

The other major budget matter left for next week — after lawmakers voted to cut more than $10 billion from social service and college programs — is the governor’s bid to convince a handful of Republican lawmakers to back his request for a ballot measure that would extend current sales, income and vehicle tax rates to help close the state’s budget gap, now estimated at more than $26 billion.

“Monday and Tuesday will be very long days,” Gatto said. “I have my toothpaste packed and sandwiches made.”


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