Bill May Bring Millions to San Mateo County

September 24, 2007

Senator Yee urges Governor's signature of bill to net San Mateo $300,000 a year in new revenue

SACRAMENTO - A raw deal regarding education funding for San Mateo and Marin counties may finally come to an end due to a bill pending before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles).

Specifically, San Mateo County is set to gain $250,000 to $300,000 in perpetuity under Senate Bill 418 (Migden). The bill would provide a new formula for paying the costs of licensed children's institutions (LCIs), which are centers that serve severely disabled and disturbed children, in counties with excess Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds (ERAF). San Mateo and Marin counties are the only two counties in the state that have excess ERAF dollars.

"SB 418 is good compromise that has gained overwhelming bipartisan support," said Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), who urged passage of the bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee and on the Senate floor earlier this month. "The Governor should immediately sign this bill to provide significant new revenue for cities and counties in San Mateo County."

In 1992, to address budget shortfalls, the Legislature shifted property tax revenues from counties, cities, special districts, and redevelopment agencies into an ERAF in each county. These ERAF dollars are used to support school districts, county offices of education, community college districts, and special education programs.

In San Mateo and Marin counties there is more money in ERAF than auditors need to pay for public education. In the past, the State has instructed the two counties to allocate the additional ERAF to LCIs. LCIs are not considered part of the local ERAF obligation and are generally paid for out of the State's General Fund, due to the fact that LCIs are not public schools, but private placement programs provided for children with extreme special needs.

"This current allocation structure places an ongoing multi-million dollar burden on San Mateo and Marin counties," said Yee. "These facilities provide support to children predominately from other counties, yet taxpayers in San Mateo and Marin have unfairly been forced to assume the costs. SB 418 ensures that the State fulfills its obligations to these special needs children."

Under SB 418, counties with excess ERAF would only be required to use up to fifty percent of their excess toward LCIs and that State would be required to pay the remainder.

The Governor has until October 14 to sign or veto the bill.

SB 418 is supported by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Marin County Board of Supervisors, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and California State Association of Counties, among others.

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008