If federal revenue sharing does end as President Reagan proposes, it is going to hurt right here in Orange County. That makes it impossible to understand why the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which voted unanimously to support the President's proposal, is so anxious to speed the program's demise when no source of replacement for the lost funds is in sight.
Orange County is "Reagan Country" as the last election showed, when the President received three out of every four votes cast. Although the board in its action seemed determined to show its support for the President, it is out of step with the National Assn. of Counties--to which nearly two-thirds of the counties in the nation belong--the National League of Cities and the California League of Cities. All of them understandably oppose the President's plan to kill revenue sharing.
It's not just the loss of federal subsistence that we dislike. When revenue-sharing funds first began arriving in Orange County in 1972 it seemed clear that it wouldn't be politic to put too much of the federal money into reducing taxes lest members of Congress decide to take the political advantage of that approach by killing revenue sharing and cutting taxes themselves. So most counties spent the money on critically needed capital improvements and social programs.
Those early local fears are still real, although it turns out to be the President who wants to kill the revenue sharing and let local government worry about raising revenues and taxes.
Orange County stands to lose millions; this year's budget contains $14 million in revenue-sharing money, and payments to the county's 26 cities range from $30,000 to $3.7 million.
Without replacement funds, even for those with budget surpluses, it won't be long before services are cut or fees increased to make up the lost income. Everyone will lose, but the biggest losers will be the same people who also suffered because of federal budget cuts--the aged, the poor and those in all kinds of trouble.
With the arrival of revenue sharing came a new awareness of the need to help the less fortunate to make the entire community more livable. The county board was a leader in that spirit and direction.
We have seen that attitude slowly changing. If the commitment to helping the less fortunate is lost with revenue sharing and the need to reduce local budgets, many social agencies and programs, the people they serve, and the Orange County community will be the poorer for it.