Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Must Read: State Dems Gut Redevelopment; They Also Vote to Force to Charge Sales Tax

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Democratic legislators voted yesterday to gut redevelopment agencies throughout California in a move that likely will prompt cities to sue the state if Governor Brown signs the bill into law. According to the Mercury News, the legislature’s vote on redevelopment was part of the budget package approved by Democratic lawmakers without Republican support. The bill calls for forcing redevelopment agencies statewide to pay a total of $1.7 billion beginning July 1 to schools, fire protection districts, and transit districts. If the bill is upheld, it could force many redevelopment agencies to shut down, or at least require them to forgo major construction projects.

2. State Democrats, meanwhile, also voted to force and to begin collecting sales taxes on purchases made by Californians, the Merc reports. The bill, if signed by Brown, is expected to generate $200 million in annual tax revenues in the state. It also promises to be a boost for brick-and-mortar retailers who are at a disadvantage because they collect sales taxes from customers. However, both and have threatened to stop doing business in California if the bill becomes law.

3. State Dems also backed away from Governor Brown’s threat of an “all-cuts” budget if Republicans refused to put his tax-extension measures on the ballot. Along with the bill, the budget approved by Democrats yesterday includes a series of accounting gimmicks, along with an increase to the vehicle license fee, an extension of a one-quarter sales tax hike, and a new fee on rural homes to pay for firefighting.

4. A large majority of Californians are ready to overhaul the state’s three-strikes law in the wake of a US Supreme Court decision that forces the state to release 30,000 prison inmates because of extreme overcrowding, the SacBee reports, citing a new Field Poll. The poll found that 74 percent of Californians favor easing the strict three-strikes law to allow judges and juries to met out lesser sentences.

5. The state’s drought, which resulted in less water for farms, did not play a significant role in the Central Valley’s economic collapse, the Chron and CoCo Times reports, citing a new in-depth study from the Pacific Institute, an Oakland-based environmental research organization. The study found that high unemployment in the Central Valley was caused primarily by the housing-market meltdown — just like it was for the rest of the country. Central Valley farmers had blamed water shortages for their economic problems.

6. Oakland’s Pandora Media had a hugely successful initial public offering yesterday, as the online music company finished trading with a $2.78 billion market valuation.

7. Former longtime Oakland City Councilman Dick Spees and former Oakland City Manager Henry Gardner penned an op-ed in today’s Tribune, urging the city council to put Mayor Jean Quan’s $11 million parcel tax on the ballot.

8. And New York Congressman Anthony Weiner plans to resign his seat in the House of Representatives today because of his sexting scandal.


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