Abolish Redevelopment in California! Take Two

The nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office has issued its report endorsing Governor Jerry Brown’s call for abolition of redevelopment in California. This is a well-reasoned, thorough piece of work, that explains how modern redevelopment works. So we recommend that our readers check it out for themselves. Go to http://lao.ca.gov/analysis/2011/realignment/redevelopment_020911.aspx

For now, suffice it for us to repeat that report’s conclusion: 

“Given the significant policy shortcomings of California’s redevelopment program, we agree with the Governor’s proposal to end it and to offer local governments alternative tools to finance economic development. Under this approach, cities and counties would have incentives to consider the full range of costs and benefits of economic development proposals.

“In contrast with the administration’s proposal, however, we think revenues freed up from the dissolution of redevelopment should be treated as what they are: property taxes. Doing so avoids further complicating the state’s K–14 financing system or providing disproportionate benefits to K–14 districts in those counties where redevelopment was used extensively. Treating the revenues as property taxes also phases out the state’s ongoing costs for this program and provides an ongoing budget solution for the state.

“Ordinarily, we would recommend that the state phase out this program over several years or longer to minimize the disruption an abrupt ending likely would engender. Given the state’s extraordinary fiscal difficulties, however, the Legislature will need to weigh the effect of this disruption in comparison with other major and urgent changes that the state would need to make if this budget solution were not adopted.”

In other words, ideas and public policies have consequences, and when those consequences become destructive or unaffordable, it’s time for reform.

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