Gary Toebben is the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. For more, visit, Fox and Hounds Daily
Robbing Peter to pay Paul has become budget politics-as-usual in California. When state government faces major deficits, Sacramento finds a way to siphon billions of dollars from local governments, transit agencies and redevelopment funds in order to balance the state budget. Prop. 22 would end the pirate raids and force Sacramento to meet its own budget obligations rather than looting the locals.
Prop. 22 must seem like déjà vu to many Californians. In years past, voters overwhelmingly approved initiatives that were meant to prevent these raids. Unfortunately, those initiatives contained tiny loopholes through which state lawmakers have managed to drive a Mack truck of budget transfers.
Recent examples include Sacramento taking $85 million in funding earmarked for L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency and more than $1 billion in transportation funding meant for MTA projects. Taking this money away from local projects and using it to fill a perpetual state budget deficit means a loss of jobs locally as infrastructure improvements and commercial projects sit idle in the planning stages.
Prop. 22 would end this dysfunctional cycle of budget games. That’s why cities, counties and local agencies are all strongly supporting Prop. 22. It’s also why a larger conversation is now taking place about putting more fiscal power into the hands of local government.
Prop. 22 is an opportunity to give localities the certainty they deserve in funding local projects and programs. It will also be an incentive for the state leaders to develop long-term solutions to California’s budget crises instead of falling back on quick fixes by taking local money.
It’s time for Peter and Paul to balance their own budgets without robbing from each other.