Claremont Insider: Slow-Motion Train Wreck

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slow-Motion Train Wreck

It's possible this time it's for real, but don't count on it. The state fiscal year ended at the stroke of midnight Tuesday with no budget, no agreement, and Controller John Chiang waving a fistful of IOUs. (See here for the Controller's word on how these IOU "warrants" work.) Early news is here.

It has been a slow-motion train wreck.

Even we were affected here, put on furlough last Saturday but given a reprieve to do this post.

The similes and metaphors were flying yesterday. Governor Schwarzenegger likened the actions of the legislature to Kabuki:

"What they're working on right now is, I think, all part of the kabuki," Schwarzenegger said. "They're wasting time by going through those drills, by trying to pass a simple majority illegal tax increase. I will never sign anything like this."

Still, for most people the wheels aren't falling off the wagon. Despite the extent to which the state and even local government get into our lives, most people in Claremont at least are relatively unaffected. If you cashed your State income tax refund check while the getting was good you might not be soon affected.

We hear that all those "vital state projects" of late last year, roads, bridges, wetlands projects, nursery schools, parks, and the like are OK this time around. The State sold bonds in the Spring to fund them

City Manager Jeff Parker spoke on the impact on Claremont as he saw it. (Click here, and then click on "City Manager Report", the seventh item below the video window. You may also run the video slider out to 10:17, where he starts the subject.) He refers to the Kabuki that in fact did take place yesterday. The State seems to be leaning against raiding the property tax fund for it's 3-year "loan", but will take gas tax money and redevelopment money. The gas take would be $600K in one year and $450K next year with the probability that this "take" would continue beyond two years. Claremont has $1M in the bank, which would soften this blow at first.

The redevelopment money is more complicated. Responding to an earlier legal challenge, the state plans a shell game of moving $150K to $200K in redevelopment money from the City to the schools, taking a like amount from the schools, getting its hand on the dough that way.

Parker says that, "Redevelopment is the best way to create jobs." Oh.

The League of Cities and various special-interest agencies say this is all unconstitutional, Parker reports. He goes on to say that the gas tax and redevelopment gambits may be floated just to make the earlier-rejected property tax "loan" more palatable.

Well, as we said, we are on furlough, not parole, and we see them coming to get us...