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Antonovich blasts state spending

Supervisor says the state’s budget mess isn’t solved, California could face an exodus of jobs and pe

Posted: May 27, 2009 9:42 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Keynote speaker Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich speaks at the State of the County luncheon at the Hyatt on Wednesday.

 
Spending, taxes and the economy were the hot topics Wednesday as politicians and business leaders convened at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia for the Santa Clarita Valley’s first State of the County luncheon.

“The buzzword of the day was the economy,” said Bob Kellar, a Santa Clarita City city councilman. His comments came moments after Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Michael Antonovich delivered the luncheon’s keynote speech to an audience of more than 250 people.    

During his speech, Antonovich focused more on the state’s budget crisis and spent less time on the status of Los Angeles County.

He also entered the controversy surrounding a proposed sewer-rate increase for SCV residents.

“When the governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was elected in a special election, there was a great need to reduce spending,”

Antonovich said. “We’re still addicted to spending.”

Antonovich criticized the state’s spending habits, which he blames for the state’s $21 billion budget deficit and its financial crisis.

“The state has a third-world bond rating,” he noted.

After Antonovich delivered his tongue-lashing about the state’s finances, he suggested some solutions to fix the budget.

“Let’s bring in five representatives from our business schools,” Antonovich said. Those five business-school academics would advise state officials on reforming the government to reduce spending but still deliver services, he said.

Antonovich also suggested a part-time legislature, the end of term limits to bring stability in leadership to the state’s capitol and the elimination of salaried state-commission board members.

“Let’s do away with special commissions that pay $130,000 plus for board members and put them on a $100 per-meeting stipend,” he said.

Antonovich’s plan to fix the state budget looks nothing like the suggestions coming from the state’s capitol in Sacramento. State officials are considering borrowing money from the coffers of city and county government and slashing services. Antonovich said the idea doesn’t cure the state’s budget mess.

“They’re (the state) talking about taking money from the city and the county to balance their budget. They are not curing their issue, which is spending.” Antonovich said California must fix its budget and reduce what he called its tax-and-spend philosophy. If it doesn’t, he said, it could watch a huge exodus of jobs and people.

“Your children will be selling souvenir postcards to people who come here to see what this great state was like,” he said.    

Antonovich touched on more than the state’s dysfunctional finances during the speech. He addresses transportation, health care and children’s services. He also made special mention of the proposed sewer-rate increase facing SCV homeowners.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has mandated that the chloride levels in the waste water released by two SCV treatment plants are reduced by 2015. To make the mandated reduction possible, the plants will need $250 million in upgrades. SCV homeowners would pay for the treatment plant through a proposed rate hike.

“It’s unreasonable,” Antonovich said about the mandate.

Antonovich criticized the Regional Water Quality Board for mandating lower chloride levels in the waste water released into the Santa Clara River without paying for the mandate.

Antonovich said he opposes the unfunded mandate by the regional board, whose members he identified in his Wednesday speech as Schwarzenegger appointees.

City Councilwoman Laurene Weste thanked Antonovich for his support and echoed his sentiments about unfunded mandates.

“It is an incredible thing for the state to force an unfunded mandate and put $300 to $400 on taxpayer bills for something that is probably unnecessary,” she said.



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