It's rare that Gov. Jerry Brown's pro-union tendencies yield anything but trouble for California, but when it comes to choosing between his union allies and rent-seeking corporate-welfare types, the governor chose the former. And that's a good thing. Last year, to find a few extra billions to close a gaping budget hole, Brown shut down the state's redevelopment agencies -- those tax-increment-financing districts that encourage cities to abuse eminent domain and dole out corporate welfare to developers. Democrats went along with that and Republicans -- despite their claimed support for property rights and limited government -- mostly resisted. This year, the Democrats came back with six bills that would resurrect the agencies in some of their original form, but Brown rejected all six bills. Good for him.
Here is my column on this from today's Orange County Register
. In it, I argue: "Basically, the Steinberg bill created redevelopment with a more limited focus and a few more safeguards. But Gov. Brown nixed this, and said in his veto statement: 'This measure would likely cause cities to focus their efforts on using new tools provided by the measure instead of winding down redevelopment.' He also pointed to the need for continued general-fund savings."
Sure Brown is looking to find extra dollars and the more he finds the less he has to reform pensions and public-employee compensation. But shutting down this system is a profound improvement, especially at the local level. The dollars he saves will be squandered any way and the day of reckoning is coming for union compensation packages with or without redevelopment.
As I discuss in the column, Brown also rejected an absurd giveaway for the police unions and a couple of other union priorities. His motives are never pure -- he didn't want opponents to his Prop. 30 tax hike to have any ammunition. That's fine. A veto is a veto. That's as good as it gets in California these days.