Politics, government and public life for Southern California

State has not paid any reimbursements for local Public Records Act compliance

Jerry Brown Delivers California State Of The State Address

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California's Democratic leaders (from left) Assembly Speaker John Pérez, Governor Jerry Brown and Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg have resolved differences over maintaining the state's role the Public Records Act.

While the legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown wrangle over whether the state should continue to foot the bill for local governing bodies to comply with the Public Records Act, here's a little known fact:

Since 2002, when a court ruled that California is responsible for such reimbursements, the state has not paid out any money to comply with the ruling.  

After the ruling, the Commission on State Mandates had to review a test claim from a local government or school board to determine what aspects of the mandate actually increase their costs. Test claims were submitted by the Riverside School District and Los Angeles County, which initiated the legal challenge that led to the state being found financially responsible.

The commission only recently concluded that the Public Records Act has some reimbursable costs. The dollar amount for what the state owes locals is unknown.  The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates it's in the tens of millons.

Whatever the amount, it's part of the estimated $1.8 billion California owes to local governing bodies for state mandates, which Brown has increasingly sought to repeal.

If California ultimately returns financial responsibility for the Public Records Act to local governing bodies, the state will owe back claims dating to 2002. An L.A. County spokesman says it has not estimated how much it would be owed because the state has not issued reimbursement guidelines. 

 

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