The money-sucking state

Stanislaus County has to surrender $10 million in redevelopment funds to the state, even though an independent consultant determined those funds were spoken for.

Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated redevelopment agencies statewide in 2011 so the cash-strapped state could seize the money. The move made reviving downtown harder. It even raised the prospect Stockton would have go sell off gems like the Bob Hope Theatre.

The law said cities and counties could keep any obligated money: money contracted to projects, or owed in debt. Stanislaus County got an independent analyst to say the $10 million was spoken for.

The California Department of Finance didn’t buy it.

Brown argues there were redevelopment abuses. There were. Maybe Stockton offended by putting 40 percent of the entire city in a redevelopment district. But redevelopment had a legitimate job to do: to clean up the blight in older cities. Every time Brown is championed as a fiscal reformer, remember he achieved a balanced budget in part by drastically reducing Stockton’s ability to restore itself. That’s predatory statism.

The state contended Stockton owed it $2.5 million. Stockton countered that money was already spent, or due to be spent. Amazingly, the state backed off reasonably, pending a “due diligence review” Stockton is doing of its recent finances. The review is tentatively scheduled to be completed by the end of this month. If the state concurs the books show the money is obligated, Stockton won’t have a debt to the state.


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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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