Saturday, January 29, 2011

California Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down by Wes Rolley

Those Greens who are thinking about running fro state wide and / local California offices by 2012 need to make sure that they can clearly articulate a sound fiscal policy for California. We have a new governor who is trying to demonstrate that, nearing the end of his long political career, he can give CA the tough love that it needs.

High on Brown's list is to end the practice of financing development through the use of Redevelopment Agencies. Originally introduced as a way for municipalities to finance the recovery of "blighted" areas, we find that the definition of blighted becomes very loose when municipalities figure out a way to get more tax revenue from the property in question. Often the resulting end picture is not as rosy as their consultants painted it. Just read what Michael Hiltzik has to say in the LA Times.
... redevelopment agencies. Maybe you're not familiar with this odd corner of government, but you should be.
That's because local government redevelopment agencies lay claim every year to about $5 billion in property taxes that would otherwise go to school districts, counties and the state. But they've never had to show they're worth the money. In fact, they've never had to show that their efforts produce any measurable net gain in property values or employment in the state, which is the whole point of having them in the first place.

It is not going to be enough to chant "tax the rich" to win any election. If we are to have credibility, we need to be able to explain how things would be better were Greens given the power to make the budget. Maybe we collectively need to have a panel of economists positioned to help us understand the relationship between tax policies, civic revenue and a sustainable future for all.

The first thing to remember is that the primary goal of Redevelopment is to allow government to use a lager share of a dwindling revenue stream. Can Jerry Brown solve California's Budget problems without killing the Redevelopment Agencies? Can our Cities solve their own budget problems if they lose the Redevelopment revenue stream? The mayor's of our nine largest cities were in Sacramento to meet with Brown and to make the point that they can not.

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