BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.com

Published: 24 May 2012 08:31 PM

SACRAMENTO Legislation to restore millions of dollars in vehicle-license-fee revenue for four Riverside County cities has stalled in the state Senate and is likely dead for the year.

Friday, May 25, is the deadline for bills to pass their respective houses’ appropriations committees. The Senate Appropriations Committee reviewed dozens of measures that had been parked on its “suspense” file because of the legislation’s perceived impact on the state’s bottom line.

The bill backed by the four cities, along with many other measures, was left on suspense.

“We knew it was going to be a hard sell. We’ll continue to work it. Maybe there’s another way to help the cities,” said state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, who co-authored the measure with state Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, said Thursday.

Last year’s state budget shifted $200 million in vehicle-license fee revenue to replace an expired funding source for local law-enforcement grants. All cities lost money, but the diversion was a major hit on cities that have incorporated since 2004, all of which are in Riverside County: Wildomar; Menifee; Jurupa Valley and Eastvale.

The four cities are out a combined $14 million in 2011-12. Officials have warned that without a fix, the cities face major fiscal problems, including disincorporation.

Inland city officials, whose testimony helped push the bill through two policy committees last month, said they were disappointed by Thursday’s turn of events.

“The state takes a wrong action that penalizes local jurisdictions. and then when those jurisdictions ask for a correction, the state says, ‘No,’” Jurupa Valley Councilman Verne Lauritzen said.

“The state is so dysfunctional,” Lauritzen added. “It will rob and steal and plunder local jurisdictions to get the funds to support their spending addiction.”

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