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Melissa Griffin: Lawmakers Back To Work; Santa Clara Stadium Fight Begins

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – With legislative recess over, our lawmakers are back in Sacramento to complete the business for the year, and that includes legislation addressing a recent issue over the 49ers Santa Clara stadium.

State Senator Elaine Alquist (whose district includes Santa Clara) has said she will introduce legislation to force a $30 million dollar payment to the 49ers stadium authority. County leaders wanted to use the money for education.

When Santa Clara voters elected to fund the creation of the stadium, you may recall that last year, one of the things they endorsed was use of up to $40 million dollars in funds from the local redevelopment agency to fund “predevelopment costs” – things like demolition, installation of fire hydrants and utility lines.

The stadium authority spent some $68 million in predevelopment costs and sent the bill to the redevelopment agency for the $40 million it needs to be reimbursed. The agency has already paid $10 million, so $30 million is left on the bill.

In the meantime, Governor Jerry Brown announced the end of local Redevelopment Agencies late last year. As part of the “wind down”process, each locality had to appoint an Oversight Committee to make sure all the outstanding agency debts are paid.

But there is a loophole. A debt can be canceled if, “early termination would be in the best interests of the taxing entities.” When that committee met to discuss the $30 million dollar debt, they voted that in light of the City’s current financial state, it was “in the best interest of the affected taxing entities” to not pay the debt.

The Santa Clara superintendent of schools has reportedly said that they need the $30 million dollars to balance their budget. Senator Alquist’s legislation would reverse that decision and force the $30 million dollar payment to the stadium authority. Whether San Francisco’s representatives will vote in favor of this legislation is a big question mark. Why would San Francisco help Santa Clara in its effort to take its 49ers?

The authority has also sued to get the money it is owed and a judge issued a restraining order to prevent the committee from spending he money until this can be resolved. The stadium authority is not entirely happy at having to file a lawsuit. On the other hand, folks in Santa Clara aren’t happy that the authority is fighting to get this amount of money, which means so much to the local budget but is merely a drop in the bucket for the $1.5 billion dollar project.

Meanwhile, construction on the stadium continues and local elected officials have issued a statement saying basically, “no matter what those folks on the oversight committee say, we love you and want the project to move forward.”

Another piece of legislation that will be taken up now that the legislature is back in session includes AB 2054. That bill would allow vote by mail ballots to be returned in any at any polling location in the state.

Gov. Schwarzenegger and Gov. Brown have each vetoed similar measures before, but the author – Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) – maintains that the closure of local post offices and redistricting, combined with the increase in vote by mail ballots, mean that people need more options for returning ballots.

When vetoing the same measure in 2007, then-Gov. Schwarzenegger wrote, “allowing voters to return their vote-by-mail ballot at any polling location in the state will add complexity to the voting and election process without commensurate benefit.”

 

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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