Hang Your Heads In Shame, California GOP

Via Ilya Somin comes this report from the California Assembly. Seems Gov. Brown's bid to defund the state's 400+ redevelopment agencies failed because of opposition from the GOP caucus, which presented a near-united front to preserve the status quo. As the status quo often involves government behaving at its worst; whether through union featherbedding, "unexpected" cost overruns, contracts to favored insiders, and Kelo-esque eminent domain seizures; all so someone like Antonio Villaraigosa can get his picture taken next to an oversized pair of scissors; this is pretty embarrassing:

California Governor Jerry Brown’s bid to dissolve about 400 redevelopment agencies and use their revenue for schools and local government may be resurrected in a compromise on tax increases to close the budget deficit, according to a fiscal adviser to the Senate’s top Democrat.

“It will follow the larger budget deal,” Steve Shea, an aide to Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg, said of Brown’s proposal at a redevelopment conference in Sacramento yesterday. “It will fall into place as the larger budget deal comes together.”

Brown proposed abolishing the agencies, which have revitalized downtown San Diego and spruced up a Palm Desert golf course, to help bridge what was a $26.6 billion gap. The $5 billion plan, opposed by several big-city mayors, fell short of passing the Assembly by one vote on March 16.

Brown, a 72-year-old Democrat, took office in January on a pledge to repair financial strains that have brought the lowest credit rating to the most populous state. He signed budget bills yesterday with cuts, loans and transfers that lowered the deficit to $15.4 billion through June 2012.

The governor’s proposal to wipe out local redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones won support from Assembly Democrats and one Republican. Passage requires a two-thirds majority, which would take one more Republican.

Now, the word from the GOP is that they too want to ditch the redevelopment agencies. They just didn't want to support this plan because of overall displeasure with Brown's budget proposal. Uh huh.

Many Republicans voted against shuttering redevelopment agencies because their party was united against Brown’s overall budget, not redevelopment in particular, said Assemblyman Chris Norby, a Republican from Orange County. He was the only one to break with his party.

Norby, who also spoke at the conference, said redevelopment has become a form of corporate welfare and that some agencies had abused their powers of eminent domain to seize private property.

“For a number of them, it was a difficult vote to vote with the agencies,” Norby said of fellow Republicans, in an interview after the conference. “Many of them have been fighting the abuses for years.”

Norby declined to forecast the bill’s chances of passing, saying its fate is tied to Brown’s attempt to persuade at least four Republican lawmakers to put $9.3 billion in tax extensions on the June ballot.

Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, agreed with that view.

“Assembly Republicans oppose the budget overall because of the gimmicks and the borrowing that got us into this mess,” Lockhart said by phone yesterday.

This is a pure example of looking a gift horse in the mouth. These agencies are little more than tools of Big Government. They are the playthings and money-mills for big city mayors, developers, construction unions and their various acolytes, none of whom are known for their ties to the GOP. Don't like the governor's budget proposal? Fine. But that shouldn't stop you from joining with him to eliminate government programs that are literally synonymous with boondoggles, corruption, and the weakening of private property rights. This was a real missed opportunity.

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