Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday called education funding a civil rights issue, defending his plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies as necessary to reduce California's yawning budget deficit and to push more tax revenue to schools and public safety.
"We take from redevelopment and we put $1 billion into schools – that's a good thing," Brown said at a Sacramento breakfast celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "We've got to make sure whatever we do, we give a chance to those who are coming along in the next generation. And that is a civil rights issue."
Brown had made a similar, if less explicit, assertion in remarks to city officials the previous day, framing his proposal as a choice between education and redevelopment.
Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, said it is misleading to suggest the state can't have both.
"To say that we can't have strong schools and continue to revitalize our communities and create jobs and build the local economy," he said, "is a false choice."
In a procedural move Thursday, Brown reaffirmed the fiscal emergency Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared last month, rebooting a 45-day clock for legislative action on a budget deal Brown is seeking by March.
As part of his budget plan, Brown proposes dissolving redevelopment agencies by July 1, diverting $1.3 billion to schools and other local governments next fiscal year, while also taking $1.7 billion to fund Medi-Cal and trial courts.
"We know Latino and African American kids are way behind other kids," Brown said at a conference hosted by the League of California Cities on Wednesday. "We know the poor districts are not as good as the wealthier districts, so I don't want to take more money from schools. I'd like to put more money into schools." City officials contend redevelopment is necessary to rebuild blighted areas and to create jobs.
To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.