Will GOP oppose property rights?

Steven Greenhut: At the state Republican convention here in San Diego, Republicans will take up the issue of Prop. 22 — a shameless attempt by redevelopment agencies and transportation agencies to protect their budgets as the state wrestles with declining revenues. It’s ballot-box budgeting at its worst and this measure — championed by the noxious League of California Cities and California Redevelopment Association — would make redevelopment-style corporate welfare off limits from the state. It would ensure that the abuses of eminent domain routinely practiced by redevelopment agencies would continue without any financial check and balance. If Republicans support this, then they are giving their blessing to some of the most anti-property-rights forces in the state.

Assemblyman Chris Norby wrote a good column on this. My column on it will be in the Orange County Register and North County Times on Sunday. Redevelopment supporters, including some big-government Republicans, argue that Prop. 22 is about local control. Yet redevelopment agencies are state agencies — a point redevelopment agencies have taken to court whenever local citizens try to overturn some outrageous property-rights-abusing project area. They want it both ways — by having agencies protected from local criticism by calling them state agencies, then trotting out the local control argument when the state wants to meddle.

By the way, it’s good for the state to take back redevelopment money.

These tax raids for corporate welfare — i.e., redevelopment agencies float debt and use the money to subsidize retail businesses and hotels, as a way to “redevelop” cities and bring in promises sales taxes — make it even more difficult for the Legislature to close the budget gap. Prop. 22 will create more pressure for tax increases at the state level by reducing the amount of dollars that legislators can control. It will lock up money so corporate welfare queens and central planners don’t have to trim their sails.

Republicans should not even be debating this, but Chamber of Commerce types don’t distinguish between helping businesses and helping free enterprise. The party should stand for the latter — creating a level playing field and an economy with low taxes and low regulation — rather than the former, which is about giving special favors to politically well-connected corporate types.

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