The Budget and Redevelopment: Plan B?
Posted in Redevelopment

Another day has passed with no apparent movement on the two remaining elements of the Governor’s budget.  Rumors are circulating that plans are afoot for bypassing Republican legislators by placing a tax measure on the November ballot. 

Officially, the Governor’s office remains focused on the original plan.  In fact, the Governor’s spokesman, Gil Duran, was quoted as saying that it was a lie that the Governor has decided on a November election.  However, other anonymous sources say that while Brown is continuing to negotiate with Republicans to put the tax extension on a June ballot, he is also considering two alternatives if those negotiations fail.

The first would be to place a tax extension on the June ballot by a simple majority vote in the Legislature.  An opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau, solicited by Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, suggests that a tax proposal could be placed on the ballot with majority vote so long as it addresses a statutory tax initiative already passed by the voters.  Some Republicans have therefore argued that the Governor is seeking political cover by pursuing a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. 

On the other hand, not obtaining a two-thirds vote, as seems to be required by proposition 26, would be fraught with political and legal perils.  The more likely alternative would be to place an initiative on the November ballot.  It has been suggested that such an initiative could include concessions to Republican interest such as regulatory reforms and a spending cap.  This "Plan B" is not without its own difficulties.  Assuming that some announcement is made this week, proponents may have as little as three weeks to collect the hundred of thousands of signatures needed to qualify in time for the November election.

What has not been discussed, at least publically, is whether the Governor has a "Plan B" for redevelopment.  As we discussed in Friday’s post, if the bills abolishing redevelopment were reintroduced as non-urgency legislation, they too could be pass on a simple majority vote.  What is uncertain is whether some pro-redevelopment Democrats would break ranks and oppose the legislation.  After all, their vote to kill redevelopment placed many Democratic legislators at odds with their urban constituencies.  If the Governor were to propose a November ballot initiative which includes significant concessions to conservative interest, some of those Democratic legislators may be more willing to vote against killing off redevelopment.

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.:  Perhaps to avoid the possibility of the defections described above, rumors are now afoot that Floor sessions for both the Senate and Assembly are possible tomorrow.  There may be an effort by the leadership to have one or both houses vote on a measure providing for the total elimination of redevelopment agencies by majority vote.  Stay tuned...

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