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LA County Wants Your Property Taxes To Fund State Programs

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(AP/FILE)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Board of Supervisors pressed local lawmakers and the Brown administration on Tuesday to allow Los Angeles County to withhold property taxes to cover costs as the county takes over state programs.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe recommended the county’s chief executive officer push for control over tax revenues, saying Governor Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal does not go far enough to guarantee funding for services that will soon become the county’s responsibility.

“The state doesn’t have a good track record and has historically underfunded the county for programs we deliver on their behalf,” Knabe said.

They “already owe us millions of dollars for similar realignment efforts. We must have a long-term guaranteed source of funding.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has drafted a bill calling for increases in sales and vehicle taxes to help fund the realignment of services between state and local governments.

The proposal, drafted as a constitutional amendment and released yesterday, would require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature and then voter approval in a special election.

The draft amendment proposes to guarantee local funding for five years through tax increases, which would be effective until 2016. It is not clear how the state would generate revenues for local programs after that.

“We need to be aggressive in order to be sure that our funding is guaranteed,” said county Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka.

Supervisor Gloria Molina objected to the language of her colleagues’ proposal, saying it read too much like an ultimatum. But Ridley-Thomas and Knabe disagreed, saying they fully expected to work with the administration and legislators to resolve open issues.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich had other objections.

“This is just another transfusion,” said Supervisor Michael Antonovich, asserting that the state was doing nothing to “actually stop the bleeding” and calling for broader structural reform.

The proposal ultimately passed by a 3-2 vote, with Molina and Antonovich voting no.

Brown is reportedly hoping to get approval from the legislature for his plan by next week, which would allow him to call a special election for the amendment.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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