Just hours before Tuesday’s late night budget vote, legislators were given a last-minute proposal to eliminate $130 million in city VLF funds, two-thirds of which currently goes to fund core police and fire services. SB 89 passed in both the Senate and Assembly and will result in the loss of vital funds that will be felt by every city in California. What should have been celebrated by cities due to the continuation of the important COPS and booking fee programs has turned into a fiscal nightmare as general fund VLF revenues that are largely used for public safety services have been swept into a locked account for community and state law enforcement.

Instead of receiving $130 million in VLF revenues, more than $80 million of which is used for police and fire services, and approximately $75 million in grants earmarked for law enforcement, cities will only receive the $75 million earmarked grants, effectively requiring cuts to local police and fire department budgets and other services. Because this bill was so last minute, legislators may not have understood the full ramifications of their vote. In fact, several new cities may be forced to disincorporate thanks to reckless legislation and disregard for transparency.

“The California Constitution requires the VLF to go to cities and counties. This legislation shifts it to fund a wide variety of state grant programs, effectively cutting local public safety funding. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs this bill, vital dollars for police, fire and every other city program will be decimated,” said Modesto Mayor and League President Jim Ridenour.

“The League has asked Governor Brown to veto SB 89 since it is effectively a shell game that was sold to legislators as a fiscally sound plan to save public safety services which will only cause deeper cuts in public safety services. It is a direct threat to public safety funding and the very existence of some new cities that were promised VLF funding,” said League Executive Director Chris McKenzie. “We strongly urge that it be vetoed and that the Administration work with the Legislature to enact responsible substitute legislation.”

League Fiscal Advisor Michael Coleman has prepared a spreadsheet of city-by-city impacts on this reckless legislation. Please click http://bit.ly/kJXp2E to access.