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Contra Costa opposes Prop. 22

Contra Costa County seal

Contra Costa County seal

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will oppose a statewide ballot initiative promoted by cities and transit agencies on the grounds that it may leave county funding vulnerable.

The board voted unanimously today to oppose the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010 placed on the ballot through the signature-gathering efforts of the League of California Cities, California Transit Association and the California Alliance for Jobs, a construction industry group.

Proposition 22, if approved on Nov. 2, would outright ban state borrowing or taking of tax money intended for local governments’ use.

The measure clearly benefits cities and transit agencies but it does not appear to protect county money from state raids, particularly in the area of human services and public safety, said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover, who also serves on the California State Association of Counties. (The state association has not taken a position on Prop. 22 but its Urban County Caucus has opposed it.)

But the county’s position is at odds with the views of its cities’ leaders, who overwhelmingly support Prop. 22 and helped gather signatures.

The division is yet another illustration of how public agencies are struggling to protect their sources of operating cash, even at the expense of state and county services.

It is an unfortunate situation, said Supervisor Susan Bonilla. She agrees with the sentiment of the measure, which blocks state access to local tax money, but says she cannot embrace a bill that might open yet another hole in the county’s already leaky financial bucket.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen