Sen. Dave Cogdill on Governor Schwarzenegger’s Williamson Act Veto
Senator Dave Cogdill, former Senate GOP Leader from Modesto, sent the following letter August 5 to county supervisors in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties regarding the Williamson Act:
Dear Local Government Partners:
With my background as a city council member, I could not support the recent budget package in its entirety because it puts the state’s budget problems squarely on the backs of local governments and only postpones more tough decisions into the future.
I am proud to have negotiated a budget compromise earlier this year that protected local government revenues to cover what was then a $42 billion budget deficit. During this same time, I also fought to protect funding for the Williamson Act, which has successfully preserved Central Valley agriculture land. This program, which has protected more than half of the state’s 30 million acres of farmland, has served as both a win for the environment and the Valley’s top job creator, agriculture.
As a result of the most recent budget agreement, our cities and counties are taking another devastating blow with the Governor’s blue pencil elimination of the Williamson Act. The package, as approved by the Legislature, contained a difficult but compromised reduction of 20 percent, saving $8 million.
In the scope of a $100 billion budget, the Governor’s $28 million elimination of the program did not amount to much for the state, but it is critical for the local governments and farmers and ranchers who depend on this program.
To put this in further perspective, the Governor used his blue pencil authority to protect $42 million in funding for the so-called “Hydrogen Highway” which currently consists of 26 fueling stations across the state. In contrast, the Governor’s same blue pencil destroyed a program that has successfully protected thousands of acres of farmland in the heart of the Central Valley. (Emphasis added.)
I want to work with my partners in local government to find creative ways to restore this funding and mitigate the impacts of the Williamson Act elimination as well as the borrowing from city and county governments.
Once we bring stability to our volatile budget process – through a strong spending limit, pension reform and two year spending plan – we will be able to provide a reliable funding stream to valued programs to serve those who truly need them.
14th Senate District
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