California Cities and Counties are funding huge lobbying efforts, spending more than even the unions. In the two-year legislative session that ended last year, local governments spent a combined $96 million on advocacy. But officials say that $96 million is just a piece of what they’ve received back from the State due to their lobbyists efforts.

In Orange County, lobbyists are credited with arranging the meetings that resulted in restoring $48 million in funding to the County. But advocacy is more than simply asking for yes votes on pro-local issues and funding lobbyists can help prevent some of the most hurtful bills in the legislature from becoming law. Los Angeles turned to its lobbyists to make sure that a bill that would have made them responsible for $2 billion in sidewalk repairs didn’t pass.

Advocacy spending often attracts outcry and criticisms. Large cities spend more, while small cities often spend a more proportionally. As the LA Times framed the issue, cities are putting off road repairs, closing libraries, and laying off police; meanwhile they continue to pay for lobbyists. However, the lack of Capitol representatives would leave local governments, and the millions they serve, far more vulnerable.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times.