When is $6.6 billion considered pocket change? When you're the state of California and you still have $10.8 billion to go.
Even with a tax windfall based on a better-than-expected economic projections for the next two years, that's where things stand with the budget deficit, which Gov. Jerry Brown is furiously trying to plug with a host of tax and realignment schemes. Land use has featured prominently in Brown's deficit-reduction strategies, and with his budget revise--released Monday--it appears that Enterprise Zones may be spared while redevelopment remains on the chopping block.
Ironically, the roughly $900 million Enterprise Zone program has relatively few friends in the state and has been fiercely criticized by researchers. Conversely, nearly every local official, real estate developer, and planner in the state has, either because of genuine conviction or parochial interests, issued resounding protests against the killing of redevelopment.
Brown reportedly salvaged Enterprise Zones in part because he did not have enough support in the Legislature to kill them. Instead, he proposes a reform that would extend tax breaks only to companies that can prove they are creating new jobs. His redevelopment proposal, however, remains unchanged.
Other elements of the governor's revised budget related to land use:
- Closure of 70 state parks [pdf], for a savings of $33 million
- Increase in Prop. 1B capital funding from $2.3 billion to $3.3 billion.
- Reinstatement of allocations for Prop. 1C funding, including 25 million for the Housing, Urban, Suburban and Rural Parks Program; $18 million for the Transit-Oriented Development Program; and $20 million for the Building Equity and Growth in Neighborhoods (BEGIN) Program. Prop. 1C grants had been suspended several months ago.
- Elimination of over 40 state boards and commissions. The League of Cities identified several of interest to cities:
- State Mining and Geology Board
- State Office of Gang and Youth Violence Prevention
- Commission on the Status of Women
- Governor's Office of Gang and Youth Violence Prevention
- California Council on Criminal Justice
- Fair Employment and Housing Commission
- Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standard Board
- Selling non-essential properties such as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Montclair Golf Course in Oakland, and most of the holdings of the Capital Area Development Authority in Sacramento.
To the last point, it's understandable that the governor would want to get some white elephants off the state's books. Lord knows, the Coliseum -- a partnership between the the state, the City of L.A., the County of L.A., and its main tenant, USC -- is a hot mess. But liquidation of CADA properties would kill one of the major drivers of development in downtown Sacramento, where CADA acts as the de facto redevelopment agency. Though this move would follow the spirit of the governor's intention to eliminate all redevelopemnt agencies, the difference is that CADA is a zero-sum game, since it's a state entity in the first place.
June 15 is the deadline for the Legislature to act on budget proposals.