By The Press-Enterprise Editorial Board / The Press-Enterprise
Had the citizens of Wildomar, Menifee, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley known a decade ago what they know today, they might have had second thoughts about becoming, respectively, Riverside County’s 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th incorporated cities.
That’s because the state pulled a bait-and-switch on the four cities, which decided to incorporate with the understanding that Sacramento would allot their recently formed municipalities a certain amount of vehicle license fee revenue each year to ensure their financial viability.
In 2004, the share of the VLF received by newly incorporated cities was taken away by the Legislature during state budget negotiations. In 2006, lawmakers made things right by passing Assembly Bill 1602, which restored to new cities the VLF revenue they lost with the 2004 budget deal.
Passage of AB1602 was the green light awaited by Wildomar and Menifee to incorporate in 2008, Eastvale in 2010 and Jurupa Valley in 2011.
Who knew that the Legislature in 2011 would pass Senate Bill 89, which took VLF revenue from all cities to fund Gov. Jerry Brown’s so-called prison “realignment”? And that voters in 2012 would pass Proposition 30, which amended the state Constitution to permanently dedicate a portion of VLF revenue to local governments to pay strictly for realignment programs?
Enter Sen. Richard Roth, the Riverside Democrat, who introduced SB25 this year, which would restore the VLF revenue the state has taken away from newby cities like Wildomar, Menifee, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley. The measure passed the Legislature by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and is now awaiting action by Gov. Brown.
Sen. Roth introduced similar legislation in 2014 and 2013. His 2014 measure, SB69, was vetoed by the governor. His 2013 measure, SB56, died before reaching Gov. Brown’s desk. The hope here is that the third time will be the charm for Sen. Roth’s legislation. Because we think it bad faith that the state all but invited unincorporated communities like Wildomar, Menifee, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley to seek cityhood only to pull “the rug out from under (the) four cities,” as an analysis of SB25 put it.
Under SB25, the four cities would receive, between them, roughly $16 million per year from the state’s general fund. That’s a pittance to the state, but would be a godsend to the four Riverside County cities that were forced to cut back services, including law enforcement, after falling prey to the state’s budgetary bait-and-switch.