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George Skelton in L.A. Times on Devolving Power and Money from Sacramento to Local Governments

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George Skelton has a “Capitol Journal” column in today’s (Nov. 29, 2010) L.A. Times about how incoming governor Jerry Brown has the opportunity to “revisit” Prop. 13 and the reaction he had to it when he was governor when it passed, by seeking changes in the law that will allow local governments to have more responsibility for raising money for local purposes, including schools, along with more power to raise taxes. Skelton traces the state’s financial crisis back to Prop. 13, and in particular to how the state, at the time flush with a surplus, took over the funding of much of local government to make up for the loss in property tax revenues.

From the column:

But it all started [i.e., the financial crisis] with the state’s response to Prop. 13.

Brown realizes that now, based on his campaign rhetoric. In running for governor again, the former Oakland mayor talked consistently, if vaguely, about returning more power to local governments and the people.

On his website, Brown promised to create a task force to develop a plan. He also vowed to reduce “excessive mandates” for schools. And he asserted that the ways state and local governments share control over health and welfare programs “blur responsibility and drive up costs.”

“I would work to align program responsibility with revenue authority,” he continued, “so that the entity that manages the program is also responsible to pay for it.”

In non-government speak that means the state would unload much of its costs on the counties, but also give them more power to raise taxes to foot the bill for services. Local voters would decide what they wanted to pay for.

To read the whole column, click here.



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