Government Finance and Operations 01/27/2012
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 elections less expensive for counties.
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 requirements are wordier than necessary and at times specify 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. AB 1413 is an urgency bill, so it would go into effect immediately upon receiving the Governor’s signature.
The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee unanimously approved AB 1413 on Thursday, January 26. If all goes as planned, the Assembly will pass the bill early next week and present the bill to the Governor.
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 passed AB 1191 with no ‘no’ votes on Thursday, January 26. 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 passed AB 1289 on its consent calendar on Thursday, January 26. It now moves to the Senate.