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Border Bond-Fund Bill Advances in Assembly

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A controversial proposal to create a binational bonding authority to build roads, sewers, border crossings and other infrastructure needs at the California-Mexico border cleared its first legislative committee Monday but was referred to a second panel to study how the measure sets with San Diego political and business leaders.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) has angered San Diego civic and business leaders, who say they weren’t consulted before Polanco introduced the measure for study. They contend that the authority duplicates funding mechanisms that can be used by local governments and that the proposal is unneeded.

But Polanco won tentative support from his colleagues on the Economic Development, International Trade and Technologies Committee, which Polanco chairs. Polanco said the bonding authority is needed to address border needs at a “higher level” than the local jurisdictions, which he said have been hampered by differing priorities in dealing with infrastructure needs.

Before voting for the bill, however, some Assembly members said they were uneasy about just who would pay for the revenue bonds issued by the authority. They also wanted to hear more from members of the San Diego legislative delegation before supporting the measure again as it winds its way through the Legislature.

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“No matter how I vote on this, I want to know (how) the delegation from the area feels about this,” said Assemblyman Bill Jones (R-Fresno). “It really depends on them.”

Polanco said that Assemblyman Pete Chacon (D-San Diego) has agreed to co-author the bonding measure and that he has not been informed of opposition from the San Diego contingent. He agreed to have the bill referred to a subcommittee of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee to give San Diegans a chance to voice their feelings, as well as for further testimony on how the bill and any revenue bonds issued by the authority would affect San Diego’s local governments and the border economy.


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