Brown pitches state to local government realignment for California

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 5, 2011 

Gov. Jerry Brown, beginning the "complex undertaking" of shifting responsibility for many state programs to local agencies, started pitching the plan Tuesday to local leaders.

Brown has said he will propose a realignment of services, possibly far-reaching, as part of a proposal to resolve a state budget deficit estimated to be at least $25 billion over 18 months.

"To realign responsibilities, it involves welfare, it involves Medi-Cal, it involves parole, probation, many other things," Brown said before meeting with county leaders on his second day in office. "So, it's the kind of complex reordering that I want to be very careful about."

Brown said the state will direct funding to local agencies to pay for any program shifts.

He declined to discuss specific services or funding mechanisms that might be involved, but according to a source familiar with his budget proposal, they include:

• Diverting low-level offenders to county jails, sending money to local governments to increase jail space or for rehabilitation programs.

• Eliminating the Division of Juvenile Justice, instead sending money to local governments to house juvenile offenders.

• Eliminating hundreds of local redevelopment agencies, eventually redirecting tax revenue they receive to counties and schools.

• Reducing the number of services local governments are required to provide and perhaps giving them greater latitude to raise revenue to pay for them.

Asked specifically about affording counties more authority to raise taxes, Brown said, "I think we're first of all going to give them some responsibility with some funding."

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