Local tax dollars stolen by cash-strapped state
Anyone needing further proof that the inmates are running the asylum in Sacramento need only to examine last week’s blatant pilfering at political gunpoint of more local tax dollars to help balance the state’s massively out-of-whack budget.
Early last week cities across the state who had seen their local redevelopment agencies (RDAs) abolished by the state effective Feb. 1 got the shocking news that the legislature, in its quest to roll over every stone to find desperately needed cash, had arbitrarily rolled back to Oct. 1 the RDAs’ expiration date. Never mind that the Feb. 1 had been set in a December ruling by the state Supreme Court.
By approving Assembly Bill 1484, the Assembly and Senate put into law demands for local tax dollars collected by the former RDAs between Oct. 1 and Feb. 1. In the case of the City of San Diego, the amount was $89 million. Poway was ordered to return $3.3 million.
But here’s where a bad law becomes draconian. The timetable for implementation of this part of AB 1484 gave cities only a couple of days to pay the bill. Those that had not submitted the funds by Thursday faced the real possibility of losing the next quarterly sales tax payment, due this week. Late penalties, plus interest charges were factored into the bill as well.
Did lawmakers understand what they were voting on? Hard to say, since the 73-page AB 1484 was not printed for their review until the day before the votes were taken. Frankly a close review would have likely been a waste of time, since the votes pretty much went down party lines. In the Assembly, 46 of the 48 approval votes came from Democrats (including San Diego’s Marty Block), while 15 of the 18 “no” votes were from Republicans. (Nathan Fletcher, now an independent, did not vote.) In the Senate, AB 1484 passed on a 21-18 vote. More party-line voting here, with 15 of the 18 “no” votes coming from Republicans, including San Diego’s Joel Anderson and Mark Wyland.
Affected cities are not taking this robbery of local funds lying down. Most, including San Diego and Poway, made timely wire transfers of the money under protest. Several local cities, including San Marcos, Oceanside, Vista, Chula Vista and National City, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state filed late last week.
The cities sent their transfers to the county, which this week will return the tax dollars to local tax agencies, including school districts.
School districts, you would think, would be thrilled to have the unanticipated revenues to ease their own budget troubles. That’s not the case however. As Poway Unified School District Supt. John Collins has pointed out, for every post-RDA dollar received by his district, one less dollar will be provided to the district by the state.
Kind of crazy, don’t you think? Oh wait, what did you expect coming out of an asylum?
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