Letters To The Editor 02-03-11
The Public Voice
Thursday, February 3, 2011
HITTING THE BOOKS
The California County Librarians Association (CCLA) applauds Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to balance the budget and align spending with revenues. However, while CCLA understands that all local jurisdictions have their own priorities, we would like to express our disappointment at the elimination of all public library funding from the proposed state budget.
Elimination of libraries from the proposed budget will not only result in loss of funding for public libraries, but will also seriously impact the state’s ability to receive millions of dollars in Library Services and Technology Act money from the federal government, which requires a maintenance of effort on the part of the state. The impact could last over several years.
The three major areas that the state funds support are: Providing direct state aid to California public libraries for basic public library service through the Public Library Fund (PLF); the provision of literacy services to the people in California who read/write English below the sixth grade level and are not being served by the education system; and sharing of resources through California Library Services Act (CLSA) funds. California has long been in the forefront of resource sharing and providing equal access to all residents, and the loss of this privilege could be devastating for small libraries or less prosperous jurisdictions.
With the continuing economic situation throughout the country and in the state, libraries are busier than ever. People are coming to libraries for traditional services, seeking reading material and information in larger numbers than ever. Libraries also are the destination for people in search of Internet access, programs for their children, job-seeking help, literacy tutors, homework help, meeting rooms, etc. Reduction in library services will have far reaching effects.
We encourage all users and supporters of libraries to make their concerns known to their elected assembly members and senators.
- Jayanti Addleman | Monterey (Note: Ms. Addleman is president of the California County Librarians Association.)
ANOTHER BROWN PUNCH
Gov. Brown recently released a budget proposal that includes the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies and Enterprise Zones. The proposal, if enacted, would eliminate the Salinas Redevelopment Agency and its three project areas, as well as numerous redevelopment agencies throughout Monterey County. It also would eliminate the newly established Salinas Valley Enterprise Zone, which is just starting to provide economic benefits for the Salinas Valley.
The redevelopment proposal violates the will of the people and will have grave consequences on California’s economy. Last November, voters approved Prop. 22, reaffirming the message we have send again and again: local funds should remain local and pay for services and programs in their own communities. Without its Redevelopment Agency, our community will be forced to give up its most important tool for economic development.
The Enterprise Zone Program targets economically distressed areas throughout California, providing special incentives designed to encourage business investment and promote the creation of new jobs. There are few areas of the state more distressed than the Salinas Valley, which historically and currently has unemployment rates well above state average. The Salinas Valley Enterprise Zone has just started to stimulate job growth and businesses are starting to realize its benefits.
From a policy standpoint, the elimination of these programs makes no sense. Both boost our economy and are essential tools in economic recovery. Redevelopment improves communities and spurs job growth. Enterprise Zones are one of the few tools that local agencies have to bring jobs to depressed areas. In its first year, the SVEZ certified 156 new employees at local businesses, and in 2010 the number increased to 1,777; an even greater number are expected in 2011.
There is no doubt the state’s situation is dire, and it is well past time the state faces the consequences of years of temporary budget fixes. But eliminating programs that create jobs and fuel economic growth is reckless and unwise.
- Dennis Donohue | Salinas (Note: Mr. Donohue is the mayor of Salinas.)