School groups expected to defend Brown in suit over redevelopment money

The California School Boards Association, along with a number of other statewide school advocacy groups, is expected to meet today's deadline for filing legal briefs in support of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies.

The California Redevelopment Association has filed suit -- pending before the state Supreme Court -- challenging the move by the governor and Legislature to abolish renewal programs as currently established and divert $1.7 billion in tax increment funds to the state.

Earlier this month, the board of Los Angeles Unified voted to join in the defense of the state plan and a number of other school boards are expected to follow.

That schools would be in favor of the redevelopment diversion is not surprising since the lion's share of that money has been earmarked to help cover state support to education. From a political standpoint, however, the move puts some school boards at odds with other parts of their local government - especially the executive branch.

In the case of L.A., for instance, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is strongly opposed to the governor's plan. Indeed, co-petitioners in the case are the California League of Cities and the City of San Jose.

Still, among the groups rumored to be joining the defense are the Association of California School Administrators as well as the California Teachers Association.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case early next year - at least in part to give the Legislature time to adjust to yet another hit to state revenue should the governor's plan get rejected.

The plaintiffs in the case have argued that the question isn't about whether the Legislature has the authority to abolish redevelopment agencies. Instead, they say, the question is whether the Legislature can divert redevelopment revenue for state purposes despite the existence of Proposition 22 - a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that was generally viewed as preventing legislative raids on redevelopment funds."

Not so says the State Attorney General's office. They argue that the case does rest on the authority to repeal redevelopment programs. They note that Proposition 22 limits the Legislature's power over redevelopment agencies, but not its authority to abolish them altogether.

The state's attorney says that Proposition 22 limits legislative "tampering with the stream of income flowing into and out of RDAs, not with the Legislature's power to end the RDA program entirely."