Friday August 1, 2008

The City of Napa supports the efforts of the League of California Cities to convince the State Legislature to solve its budget problems without draining money from local government. The League of Cities issued this media release today:

(Sacramento) Go to www.cutupthecard.com to find out how much money the state of California has taken from your city since 1991*. This interactive portal, launched today, is loaded with resources about the long term state seizure of city revenues and its impact.

The website features:
  • A tool that lets visitors calculate how much the state has taken from their city since 1991 and send a “debt statement” to their local legislators;
  • Information about the state’s history of seizing local revenues for its own budget;
  • Statements by California Legislators;
  • Clips and statements from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denouncing borrowing from local government; and
  • News articles, editorials and video clips.

 

California cities can’t afford to have the state once again seize local revenues or transportation funds and still provide the same level of critical services such as police, fire, and street maintenance. Cities across California are facing many of the same budget challenges as the state. The economic downturn has stalled sales and property tax revenues, and rising energy costs are draining city coffers.

Cities don’t have the option to borrow from any other level of government; they just tighten their belts. If the state takes local revenues as a budget solution, cities will be forced to tighten their belts even further and Californians will suffer as a result. League President and San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Jim Madaffer held up a mock Bank of Local Government Credit Card at a press conference on Monday, July 28, in his city, driving home the message that it is time to cut the local government credit card up once and for all.

"The voters have told state leaders to stay away from local funds," Madaffer said. "Borrowing these funds will do nothing more than plunge the state further into debt and worsen the state’s structural deficit," he said. "Lawmakers need to solve the budget crisis without relying on further borrowing that would destroy local services." 

Chris McKenzie, League of California Cities executive director, said that www.cutupthecard.com was created to provide information about the budget process and highlight the legislators who have said publically that they do not intend to use local government revenues to close the budget deficit. He also acknowledged the Governor’s continued support for local government and belief that the state can’t keep taking local government revenues. 

“In recent weeks several legislators have assured the people of California that they are not considering using local government revenues to balance the state budget. We appreciate their understanding of the danger to the state of doing more borrowing and the important function of cities in providing the services our residents rely on such as police, fire, transportation and much more,” said McKenzie. “The Governor also has been a big supporter of cities and an opponent of borrowing from local governments to solve the state budget crisis. He has stated repeatedly that the state budget should be balanced with state funds and the state should not rely on local funds that are needed for critical local services.”  
 
McKenzie added, “Senate President Pro Tem Perata and Assembly Speaker Bass also have expressed similar sentiments, and we commend them for opposing the politically expedient option of ‘borrowing’ from local governments or transportation funds to fill the state’s budget gap. It is refreshing to hear these outstanding state leaders insist that the state finally face its budget demons rather than shifting responsibility to local governments.” 

California voters made it clear that they do not want the state using local revenues to fund state government. Four years ago, 84 percent of voters passed Proposition 1A to end the constant state seizure of local revenues. Just two years later, in 2006, 77 percent of voters told the Legislature to fix its own problems and protected transportation dollars. 

The Web site, www.cutupthecard.com , was created as a forum to assist city officials and residents in taking action to protect their local communities from state raids. Founded in 1898, the League is an association of California city officials who work together to enhance their knowledge and skills, exchange information, and combine resources so that they may influence policy decisions that affect cities. Its mission is to restore and protect local control for cities through education and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for all Californians.

 

*This amount is the cumulative net loss through FY 2007-08 from Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF), net of Proposition 172 funds and Citizen’s Options for Public Safety (COPS) funds.