End of Session in the California Legislature was not quite long enough for the resolution to the $48 million in stolen VLF funding to be restored. While the Orange County GOP delegation was quick to demand the funds be restored, they refused to lift a finger to make it happen. In fact, they played a major role in causing the money to be taken.
When Governor Brown was trying to find a way to resolve state budget shortfall with a combination of tax extensions and cuts, the GOP legislators put up a united front for a cuts only budget. They got what they wanted, but it also cost them at home. In trying to find every penny available to fill the resulting $12 billion hole, Governor Brown found a pot of money, that did not (from his perspective) technically need to go to Orange County. The cost to OC was $48 million.
When Assemblyman Jose Solorio came up with a modest proposal to correct the problem, there were no OC votes from the GOP delegation to move the legislation. Last night, Solorio’s bill ABX1 43 was initially killed in the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee. Then at around 9 pm the bill was revived and on its way to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. About an hour later the bill cleared Appropriations and was headed to the Assembly Floor where it passed and moved over to the Senate, where it died around 11:30 pm.
Given the intransigence of the GOP delegation, there was limited appetite among Democrats in the legislature to support passage of the fix.
For example, in June after the Democrats in the legislature passes a buget plan GOP/TEA Party Assemblyman Don Wagner released a press statement that said:
Assemblyman Wagner not only opposed new taxes, but had proposed a budget that relied solely on cuts and spending within the state’s means. Wagner will continue defending the taxpayers in future, hoping to achieve an outcome that will be beneficial to working families and the entire state.
Well Don, you and your colleagues got your wish. We now face cuts in Orange County public safety programs that could result in more than 250 jobs being eliminated. This will certainly have an affect on reducing the size of government you wish to crush.
Assemblyman Solorio wrote in an email last night that “the effort to recover the $48 million due Orange County will resume in January.”
“Although the Legislature ran out of time to pass ABX1 43 on to the Governor for consideration, the vote on the Assembly Floor was very encouraging, so we will continue the issue along in January when the Legislature reconvenes.
However, because the $48 million are so imperative to Orange County’s well being, and the consequences so grave if not recouped, I would encourage county officials to instigate legal action to move simultaneously with legislation. One way or another, we need to get that money back.”
After a thorough vetting in the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee resulted in a unanimous vote in favor of AB X1 43, the bill was considered and approved in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. With time almost out in the 2011 Legislative Session, the Assembly did pass the bill on a 48 to 2 vote.
In an email to members of the Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino wrote:
The bottom line is that the County didn’t get anything more or less than anyone else. It is just a matter of whether it was property tax or VLF. To take the VLF now is a double take, since it was already accounted for in 2004 swap.
There are many lessons we can take from this situation but today is not the day for objective analysis. Today is a day to thank all the folks who I mentioned above [Chairman Campbell, Steve Baker, Darius Anderson, Tom Mauk, Lou Correa, and Jose Solorio] for all their hard work and steadfast dedication to our mutual effort. We are not going to give up we will start the fight again in January.
For now we will shift gears and fight to insure not a single member becomes another innocent victim of another bankruptcy related issue.