Tracy Garcia, Staff Writer
Created: 03/07/2011 10:04:28 PM PST

In response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to shift certain state programs to local governments, Los Angeles County supervisors have voted to seek a state constitutional amendment to ensure a steady funding source for programs moved to local control.

Earlier this year, Brown proposed a series of “realignments” to cut costs, including making local governments responsible for state programs such as:

Mental health services

Substance-abuse programs

Foster-care and adult protective services

Public-safety programs that deal with adult parole services and juvenile justice.

Even though the proposal says the state will provide the money for these programs if they’re shifted, county officials say they’re still concerned they’ll be left holding the bag.

For Los Angeles County, officials said initial estimates show the proposed shifts could cost the county $1.5 billion to $2billion annually.

“We want to work with the governor and Legislature, but we cannot do so at any cost,” said Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Diamond Bar in the county’s 4th District.

“The biggest issue is that the state cannot shift these programs to local government without funding.”

That’s why Knabe and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas made a joint motion Tuesday to pursue a constitutional amendment to secure “adequate and permanent funding” for any service the state moves to local control.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve the motion.

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Michael Antonovich dissented.

Molina and Antonovich both represent Inland Valley cities. Molina’s 1st District includes Pomona. Antonovich’s 5th District includes Claremont, San Dimas and La Verne.

Brown has proposed a June special election to let voters decide whether to extend the state income, sales and motor- vehicle registration taxes for another five years to manage a $26.6 billion budget deficit.

The Legislature has not yet approved the special election, but must do so soon in order for the Secretary of State’s Office to prepare for it, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

Brown conceded Monday that he has yet to win a single Republican vote for his budget plan. As a result, he said, he probably won’t make the self-imposed deadline for a legislative vote.

If approved, funding from the tax extensions would be used to support the shifting of state programs to local control.

However, county officials want constitutional protection. They’re also concerned how funding will be affected when the tax extensions – if approved – expire in five years.

But Palmer says much of the county’s concerns are already addressed in Brown’s proposal.

“There is an explicit provision that once the tax extensions expire in five years, the state is obligated to provide the same amount of money for those services,” Palmer said.

“Secondly, if the state were to ask the local government to do more than what’s in the realignment proposal, it says the state is obligated to pay for any additional costs above and beyond that proposal,” he said.

Molina’s spokeswoman, Roxane Marquez, said the supervisor opposed seeking the constitutional amendment because it “seems that her colleagues feel that unless they get everything they want, they don’t want to play ball – and she thinks that’s a major mistake.

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