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VLF money remains AWOL

Josh Kleinbaum

When state legislators broke session Friday after finalizing a budget

deal, they did little to ease concerns from Burbank officials about

vehicle-license fee money.

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The state Senate approved a $15-billion deficit-reduction bond

issue for the March ballot and a constitutional spending limit, but

legislators did not cover lost revenue for local governments caused

by the car-tax reduction, despite pledges that cities would not lose

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money.

“There were a couple of bills they tried to get to the floor

[Friday], and they were shot down on party lines,” Burbank Financial

Services Director Derek Hanway said. “It’s really disconcerting that

[legislators] broke their promise.”

The earliest that the state can act on the car tax money is

January, when the Assembly and Senate return to session, although

local officials are not optimistic for any change.

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In November, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger repealed the tripling of

the car tax, money that goes to local governments. Schwarzenegger

said governments would not lose money, but neither he nor legislators

have approved new funding. As a result, cities and counties are

losing a significant portion of their funding. Burbank could lose

$4.4 million this fiscal year, Glendale could lose $8.5 million and

La Canada Flintridge could lose more than $930,000.

Officials from the League of California Cities, a lobbying group

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that represents local governments, said local governments are the

only losers in the new budget.

“Local governments are the only things being cut right now,” said

Jennifer Quan, executive director of the Los Angeles division of the

league. “No other services are being affected. Education, health

services, they’re not affected. Local government is being singled

out.”

Two bills that would have funded local governments for the

vehicle-license fees failed to get to the Assembly floor Thursday.

The Assembly voted not to circumvent normal procedure and have an

Assembly-wide discussion on the bills, which were being considered in

the rules committee. Bills usually have to go through three or four

committees before making it to the Assembly floor.

“This was a political stunt,” Assemblyman Dario Frommer

(D-Burbank) said. “Those bills have to be heard in committee before

they come to the floor. They tried to do this stunt to cover

Schwarzenegger. But the fact remains that in January, you’re going to

see some action on this.

“I know the cities are stressing out about this a little bit. I’m

not overly concerned yet. We have plenty of time to deal with it, and

it’s front and center.”


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