Lawsuits Highlight Budget Cracks

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It’s not the first time the California Redevelopment Association has filed suit against the state. The group is trying to prevent California from shifting two billion dollars from local redevelopment agencies to other state expenses. Executive Director John Shirey says it’s unconstitutional. He says they sued last year over the same issue:
“It is frustrating. It seems like it’s becoming an annual event that we have to sue the state of California to get it to comply with its own constitution.”
Last year the Association prevailed in court, and Shirey expects to win this time too.  He says despite the state’s financial crisis, the law is the law.  Other groups with similar arguments have had success in court as well. This week a federal judge blocked – at least temporarily – millions in cuts to in-home care workers. The courts have also ruled that Governor Schwarzenegger can’t furlough certain groups of state workers.  The Governor is clearly frustrated:
" So for a federal judge to come in and says no, no, no, continue paying that amount, when he has not recommended where the revenues come from, I think he should come to our office, to this building and find out how budgeting is done, so he will know how it works, and so I think it’s irresponsible for them to do that.”
But lawsuits are a fact of life when it comes to California government. Aaron McLear is Schwarzenegger’s Press Secretary. 
“If we stopped taking action based on lawsuits against us, we wouldn’t do anything. Essentially everything we do somebody sues us on. That’s certainly the case with the budget. There are 20 lawsuits right now on the furloughs.”
The Department of Finance has to take into consideration the numerous suits the state could lose when it looks at budget projections. And the Controller estimates that revenues are already about a billion dollars shy of projections this fiscal year. Governor Schwarzenegger says it’s not yet time to re-open the budget, but acknowledges another deficit is a certainty.