Stadium, Convention Projects in Jeopardy

By R. Stickney and Mari Payton
|  Thursday, Jun 16, 2011  |  Updated 10:13 AM PDT
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Images: Proposed Convention Center Expansion

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Budget Deal Puts Stadium, Convention Projects in Jeopardy

Redevelopment agencies, including San Diego's can stay put but in return they would have to give local school districts their share of property taxes that, until now, have been used for local redevelopment efforts. Mari Payton reports.

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San Diego city leaders are outraged with state lawmakers over the passage of two bills involving redevelopment money.

The action puts projects like a downtown football stadium and the San Diego Convention Center expansion in jeopardy.

As part of the state budget deal, lawmakers are using $1.7 billion in property taxes statewide to help balance the books. That money would have otherwise gone to redevelopment agencies.

Redevelopment agencies can stay put but in return, they would have to give local school districts their share of property taxes that, until now, has been used for local redevelopment efforts.

"It's not legal, and it's certainly not in step with California voters, who said very clearly in November that they wanted the state to address pension reform and other fiscal issues instead of raiding cities' tax dollars,’” Mayor Jerry Sanders said in statement Wednesday night.

San Diego City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer went to Twitter to voice his frustration. "Anybody who voted for this job-killer just put politics before San Diegans and our local economy. I'm beyond disappointed. I'm outraged," Faulconer posted.

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the city will join others to mount a legal challenge.

"The only purpose of this legislation is to save the State from having to cut its spending by the amount it forces the cities to pay. Not one penny of this money is returned to taxpayers," Goldsmith said in a prepared statement Thursday.

"Big Government advocates are rejoicing that they were successful in taking money out of the communities to fund the State's bloated bureaucracy, " he said.

A San Diego County Democratic Assembly members voted in favor of the bills and all Republicans opposed amid a heated debate.

"We would rather do this than cut another billion dollars to the poor and the elderly in California,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) said on the floor. “We would rather do this than cut another billion dollars out of education.

“It's a matter of simple choices,” Steinberg said.

Assemblymember Connie Conway (R) saw things differently. "We are shifting the truth and shafting the taxpayers which is what always happens,” Conway said. “It’s disconcerting.”

The Legislature on Wednesday passed a Democratic budget for the coming fiscal year that eliminates the state's remaining $9.6 billion deficit, but the plan was widely seen as a placeholder designed to meet a constitutional deadline for sending a balanced budget to the governor.

Governor Jerry Brown is expected to offer his first public comments on the package of budget bills in Los Angeles on Thursday. He has 12 days to sign or veto the measures.

Click here for a breakdown of the fees, cuts in our Budget Deal at a Glance.

Where should property taxes be spent? To fund redevelopment projects or to help balance the state budget? Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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