Tuesday Aug 26 2008
Don’t take local funds to fix the state budget
By: Craig Robinson Roseville City Manager
As the state budget crisis drags on, legislators are again looking at “borrowing” local resources to balance a state shortfall. In a worst case scenario, the city of Roseville could face a cut of nearly $5 million. Cities provide services that residents rely on – police, fire, transportation and much more. Cities don’t have the option to borrow from any other level of government; they just tighten their belts. If the state takes local revenues as a budget solution, cities will be forced to tighten their belts even further and Californians will suffer as a result. California cities can’t afford to have the state once again seize local revenues or transportation funds and still provide the same level of critical services such as police, fire, and street maintenance. Cities across California are facing many of the same budget challenges as the state. The economic downturn has stalled sales and property tax revenues, and rising energy costs are draining city coffers. California voters have told state leaders to stay away from local funds. Four years ago, 84 percent of voters passed Proposition 1A to end the constant state seizure of local revenues. Just two years later, in 2006, 77 percent of voters told the Legislature to fix its own problems and protected transportation dollars. And while the governor has opposed local government borrowing, the Legislature continues to consider it. It is time to cut the local government credit card up once and for all. Borrowing these funds will do nothing more than plunge the state further into debt and worsen the state’s structural deficit. Lawmakers need to solve the budget crisis without relying on further borrowing that would destroy local services. The state budget should be balanced with state funds and the state should not rely on local funds that are needed for critical local services. Insist that the state finally face its budget gap rather than shifting responsibility to local governments.