Government Finance and Operations 01/20/2012
AB 1413 (Fong) – Support
As Amended on January 5, 2012
AB 1413, by Assembly Member Paul Fong, would fix several issues related to the statutory implementation of Proposition 14. In doing so it would make future election procedures clearer for voters and less expensive for counties and, in turn, the state.
The bill that implemented the statutory provisions of Proposition 14, SB 6, went beyond the constitutional requirements by also requiring particular language to be printed on every ballot and next to each candidate’s name. The required verbiage is wordier than necessary and at times specifies extraordinary font sizes. Ballot real estate is valuable, and these provisions will result in significant costs to counties. Because these costs are mandated by the state, the state would end up being responsible for reimbursing counties.
AB 1413 makes a number of changes that will significantly reduce these increased expenses. In particular, shortening the party preference language next to each candidate’s name and removing font size requirements for instructions printed on the ballot will save money without noticeably affecting a voter’s experience.
With the millions of dollars of recent state funding cuts for elections, this relief is particularly welcome. Importantly, AB 1413 is an urgency bill, this being an election year.
The Senate approved AB 1413 on Thursday, January 19, with no ‘no’ votes. Now in the Assembly, the bill is likely to move to the Elections and Redistricting Committee. If all goes as planned, the Legislature should present the bill to the Governor by the end of the month.
AB 1191 (Huber) – Sponsor
As Amended on January 4, 2012
AB 1191, by Assembly Member Alyson Huber, provides counties and their cities a process to seek reimbursement for revenues lost as a result of the triple-flip and the VLF swap. CSAC and the Regional Council of Rural Counties are jointly sponsoring the bill.
These two accounting maneuvers were designed to reimburse counties and cities for their losses related to the diversion of a quarter cent of the local sales tax and the permanent reduction of VLF to 0.65 percent. They work by transferring school property tax revenue to counties and cities; the state then fills in schools’ lost revenue pursuant to Proposition 98. School districts that have their full Proposition 98 minimum guarantee met by local property taxes are called “basic aid,” and the triple-flip and VLF swap do not allow county auditors to divert those districts’ property taxes.
Two counties, Amador and Mono, find themselves in a circumstance unforeseen by the state or local governments in 2004: all of their local school entities qualify as “basic aid.” This means they have no source for their triple-flip and VLF swap.
AB 1191 outlines a process by which county auditors would be required to present information to the State Controller that identifies the amount of reimbursement owed to each local agency for both the Flip and Swap. Once those amounts are appropriated by the Legislature, the Controller then transfers the owed funds to the county auditor for distribution to the affected county and cities.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed AB 1191 unanimously at its hearing on Thursday, January 19.
SB 654 (Steinberg) – Watch
As Amended on January 11, 2012
SB 654, by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would revise the laws governing the winding down of redevelopment agencies to, first of all, ensure all unspent affordable housing funds continue to be dedicated to that purpose, and, second, allow the remaining tax increment to pay loans between a redevelopment agency and its sponsoring agency made within two years of the creation of a project area, as long as the loans are specific to that project area.
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 654 at its hearing on Thursday, January 19, with no ‘no’ votes.
County Budget Process
AB 1253 (Davis) – Support
As Amended on January 4, 2012
AB 1253, by Assembly Member Mike Davis, would allow Boards of Supervisors to amend recommended budgets (due by June 30 each year) before adopting a final budget (due by October 2 each year). A revision of the 2009 Budget Act inadvertently deleted the ability to do so.
The Assembly passed AB 1253 on Thursday, January 19, with no ‘no’ votes; it now moves to the Senate.
AB 1289 (Davis) – Support
As Amended on January 12, 2012
AB 1289, by Assembly Member Mike Davis, would decrease the penalty for underpayments from counties to the State Trial Court Construction Fund. By changing the penalties so they are equal to the annual returns in the Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF), AB 1289 would make them the same as penalties for all other underpayments. It would also make the state whole, since the LAIF rate is what it would have earned on the underpaid funds. The change would also be fairer to counties. Because the State Controller only audits these payments from most counties every five to seven years, the current high annual penalty rate results in exorbitant penalties when not caught for a few years.
The most recent amendments authorize the Controller to allow the county or city to pay the interest or penalty on a payment schedule in cases of hardship.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed AB 1289 unanimously at its hearing on Thursday, January 19.