Benoit Calls on State to Preserve Redevelopment
SACRAMENTO – Supervisor John J. Benoit implored legislators today to refrain from stripping local governments of their redevelopment funds and look at trimming state spending instead.
“It was critically important to share the merits of this vital tool for local government which has made possible infrastructure beneficial to the entire community,” Supervisor Benoit testified at the California State Senate budget subcommittee hearing. “We should not throw this baby out with the bathwater.”
Supervisor Benoit, who served in the state Assembly and Senate for a combined total of seven years, highlighted the difference between belt tightening at the local level and excessive spending at the state level.
“I came to Sacramento to present the reality of Riverside County’s budget picture, where overall personnel has shrunk 10 percent and department directors have sustained deep cuts upwards of 25 percent to their budgets,” Benoit said. “I have not seen this same level of commitment to reductions in the state’s bureaucracy.”
Benoit highlighted the communities of Rubidoux and Mecca, two of the county’s most impoverished areas as good examples of redevelopment. Prior to the county’s investments in those communities, they had meager roads that would easily flood and a lack of community staples, such as sidewalks, housing units and a library.
If the Legislature follows Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies, those communities and many others will suffer, Supervisor Benoit testified.
“Riverside County has used redevelopment well to eradicate blight, build affordable housing and revitalize some of the county’s most challenged communities,” Supervisor Benoit said.
Benoit was joined by Tom Freeman, Riverside foreign trade commissioner and Economic Development Agency spokesman, and Emilio Ramirez, redevelopment agency finance director.