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Assembly resolution hamstrings local government

By From page A8 | April 13, 2014

If the crushing burden of pensions, health care and crumbling roads were not enough, the state Legislature has made it clear in no uncertain terms that it is at war with California’s cities and counties.

Unions, to be sure, are behind this legislation to prevent outsourcing.

The state fired its first shot in 1992 when it created the educational revenue augmentation fund. Since its inception, ERAF has stolen approximately $120 billion from local governments. This year, the augmentation fund will pilfer $7 billion more in property taxes from cities, counties and special districts.

In 2011, the state attacked local government again, hamstringing the ability of cities and counties to improve their infrastructure by dissolving local redevelopment agencies.

The Fairfield RDA, for example, was funded by the incremental taxes paid by property owners in a number of former city growth areas, notably the area where the Solano Town Center mall and adjacent commercial development sit, and the Green Valley Crossing shopping area off of Business Center Drive. That Fairfield money, which would have paid for improvements in the city, now goes to the state and is redirected to, primarily, local schools.

Last week, the combatants in the Capitol launched a new barrage at cities and counties. The Democrats in the Assembly, on a straight party-line vote, approved House Resolution 29, which is an attack on the ability of local governments to outsource services.

While HR 29 is nonbinding, it is likely that this resolution will be followed by legislation that prohibits any outsourcing that saves money. Its author, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, said before the resolution was passed that “HR 29 would also provide support for plans that reduce outsourcing.”

Written at the behest of various public employee unions, HR 29 claims that outsourcing undermines “the underpinnings of democracy itself.”

The idea is that if government employees drive the street sweepers in Fairfield, that is democratic. But if our city signs a deal with Solano Garbage, a private company, to provide that service, that is a throwback to the days of King George III.

Co-authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, the resolution says, “. . . the Assembly opposes outsourcing of public services and assets, which harms transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition, and supports processes that give public service workers the opportunity to develop their own plan on how to deliver cost-effective, high-quality services.”

Unions want to stop outsourcing now because they know many California cities and counties are on the verge of bankruptcy, due to the high cost of labor. That expense includes large amounts of paid holidays, sick leave and vacation time, high salaries, rich medical benefits for employees and their families, increasingly burdensome pensions and fast-growing costs for exceedingly young retirees.

Local governments are looking for ways to maintain the services they provide their citizens. If costs grow faster than their revenues, they will be forced to cut critical services. Outsourcing some tasks offers the chance for impoverished cities and counties to maintain public safety, roads and parks and to take care of the poor and elderly.

Fairfield, for example, shed its street sweeping duties in favor of Republic Services (formerly Solano Garbage Company) crews when the contract for trash collection was renewed. That change actually puts some money into the city’s coffers. It has an added benefit as well: The city is no longer paying for pensions or medical benefits of these private workers.

Rather than let our infrastructure disintegrate completely, Solano County and the city of Fairfield ought to be looking for more areas to outsource, when that means getting the job done as well or better for less money.

We agree with the League of California Cities in its opposition to HR 29. The League’s legislative director, Dan Carrigg, was spot on in saying, “The fundamental job of a local elected official is to manage their respective municipality in a responsible manner and provide services in cost-efficient manner. It is just good management practice to try to make sure you are making sound decisions with the public’s money.”


Discussion | 6 comments

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  • Mr. PracticalApril 13, 2014 - 6:46 am

    This bill puts a lot of pressure on Governor Brown, who's re-election campaign would be financed primarily by union soft money. A large part of California's problems stem from control by trial lawyers and the unions. This may be a good test of the size of Brown's cajones.

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  • rlw895April 21, 2014 - 1:04 am

    We agree on something again! Yes, let's see what Brown does with this one. Your expectation is low, and that's reasonable. Mine too. Let's see if he takes a higher road.

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  • The MisterApril 13, 2014 - 8:07 am

    It's just too bad that the only thing we can trust our local leaders to do is screw up, aggrandize themselves, burden the people, and get re-elected.

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  • SavetheRepublicApril 13, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Yes, I am very disappointed with Jim Frazier on this, and I did vote for him....This is a good example...as follows... the Democrats have the reputation of being for the "poor" people... But what is not often enough pointed out to the "poor" people, is that the Democrats are for BIG GOVERNMENT, EXPENSIVE BIG GOVERNMENT, CONTROL FREAK LEVEL EXPENSIVE BIG GOVERNMENT, which takes money out of the economy, and remember the Government itself produces nothing... only wastes money on unneeded expenditures and mandates.... and in the long run this crashes the economy, over taxes the middle class and ultimately hurts the "poor" people.... The Democrats through NAFTA and GATT legislation/treaties have done nothing to stop American Jobs from being shipped over seas... For the regular unions, like auto workers, there are practically no jobs left... So what unions are left for them to control... Government Workers unions... hence more of a need to grow BIG GOVERNMENT to keep themselves in power.

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  • Mr. PracticalApril 13, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Frazier, a small business owner, has voted against small business about half the time. He was quoted earlier this year as saying that taxes and over-regulation is not why businesses and people are leaving California. Unfortunately, he is increases the size and scope of California government and not helping to unleash our business potential.

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  • Rich GiddensApril 13, 2014 - 1:01 pm

    I hope California gets destroyed in every semblence of the word and I am enjoying the discord between State and Local Government immensly. One day, both of those entities will face the wrath of the people and they will be consumed by the fury of those who State and Local Government have maliciously harmed!

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