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New state budget not as bad for city, county

July 24, 2009

Frustrated area officials got some minor relief Friday after the Legislature approved a set of state deficit solutions that are expected to severely impair public services, but offered a break to local governments.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

The state Senate approved the more than two dozen bills associated with the plan after a 16-hour session that ended after 6:30 a.m. Friday, and the Assembly moved the plan forward after a marathon session lasting over 20 hours went until about 3 p.m. Friday.

The proposals will solve much of California’s $26-billion projected with the largest chunk of savings coming from education — $5.7 billion from schools and community colleges and close to $3 billion from state colleges and universities.

Lawmakers were able to close the budget gap without using any tax and fee increases, although it did not include a $1-billion proposal to take Highway User Tax Account revenues from local governments, many of which had threatened to sue the state if lawmakers approved the maneuver.

The Senate had approved the proposal, but the Assembly voted it down and negotiated a deal that will solve the gape using $500 million in reserves and will allow Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to make up for any remaining shortfall with a line-item veto of the budget, legislators said.

The “gas tax takeaway” would have cost Glendale about $5 million annually, said City Manager Jim Starbird, who had vowed to put up signs on damaged roads identifying local lawmakers who opted to vote for that portion of the budget plan.

“From a local government standpoint, the gas tax not being taken is a tremendous change for us,” Starbird said.

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