Times have changed since Jerry Brown was last Governor. These days he’s faced with a $28 billion deficit and the realization that he’s going to have to cut somewhere. One possibility is the state’s Redevelopment Agencies, which consume about $5.5 billion in property tax revenues. It won’t be easy. While transferring that money to schools, for instance, could prove popular, the same voters who elected him also approved Proposition 22, which prevents the state from raiding local funds.
Nevertheless, rumors that the new Governor is eying the funds has Harry Mavrogenes, San Jose’s RDA head, skittish. He notes how the RDA has been responsible for many of the city’s landmarks, including the HP Pavilion, the McEnery Convention Center (and its somewhat controversial upgrade), and the Children’s Discovery Museum. It has revitalized the downtown area and created a new high tech corridor along North First Street. It would also endanger the planned baseball stadium and, in Santa Clara, the planned football stadium, both of which depend on their respective RDAs.
Then there is the business angle. RDA funds have been used to draw and keep manufacturing in the state, while two local solar energy companies have announced that they are opening new production facilities in the South instead: Stion of San Jose in Mississippi, and AQT Solar of Sunnyvale in South Carolina.
On the other hand, schools are suffering statewide, and local education budgets have been trimmed to the barest minimum. Local school officials wonder whether it wouldn’t be better to use taxpayer money to boost education instead of investing it in sports arenas.