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California State Budget Faces 3 Lawsuits

League of California Cities, Glendora criticize state’s efforts to shift vehicle license fees to pay for public safety grants

With California’s budget facing discouraging revenue shortfalls, the state must also contend with three separate lawsuits challenging the state’s allocation of scarce resources.

On Wednesday, groups supporting public education, the developmentally disabled and the League of California Cities filed lawsuits against the state.

In the latest lawsuit, the League of California Cities challenged the state over $130 million of vehicle taxes that had previously gone to cities. According to the Sacramento Bee, Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers plan to use those funds to help fund its realignment plan, one which would transfer state responsibilities –  including minor-crime criminals – to the county level.

Senate Bill 89, passed during late-night budget sessions, was approved by the governor June 30 as part of a budget package aimed to close years of recession-driven shortfalls.  

League executive director Chris McKenzie told the Bee that the budget violates the parts of the state constitution, including a voter approved proposition that protected local government payments from the state.

Glendora loses an estimated amount of $184,000, according to Finance Director Josh Betta.

“The truth of the matter is, this is why people don’t trust Sacramento, or federal or state government because of these schemes,” said City Councilmember Joe Santoro.

Betta said the city set aside a contingency fund of 1.5 to 2 percent added variance to the budget to help absorb the costs of future expenditures.

“Thank goodness we have that contingency budget,” said City Councilmember Judy Nelson. “But it’s frustrating to adopt our budget and be prudent and the state come back because they’re not adopting a good budget . . . and take more money away from us.”

School districts in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Stanislaus County joined in a lawsuit against the state challenging the loss of $2.1 billion previously earmarked for public schools. Plaintiffs claim the state owes public school education that money under Prop. 98, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

While schools received flat funding for the 2011-2012 school year, midyear cuts loom with expected state revenue falling much lower than expected.

“The way things have become the past couple of years, it’s really uncertain until the time comes when we find out one way or the other,” said Marc Chaldu, assistant superintendent of business services for the . “You don’t know exactly what you’re trying to plan for.”

The Arc of California and the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego filed another lawsuit against the state. Groups representing providers for disability services say the state's slashed funding to service providers for people with developmental disabilities had been made without the appropriate federal approval.

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