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Jerry Brown's ploy to save $1.8 billion for California schools

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But Brown says all that happened before the current economic downturn, which has socked California with the biggest state deficit in American history. “I’m sure glad I got it built before this damn budget came out,” he said to the Los Angeles Times of his renovation of Oakland's renovated Fox Theater, which houses one of the charter schools that Brown pointed to during the gubernatorial campaign as evidence of his keen support of education.

Now Brown is on a public-relations campaign with the public. California assumes an unusual amount of spending that, in most other states, is done by localities – one of the reasons behind the chronic budget crises. Brown's RDA plan is one way to readjust that, officials say.

“Californians need to understand this [redevelopment idea] is part of Brown’s larger proposal that he campaigned on to entirely change the state’s relationship to local communities,” says H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance. “This is what he told voters he would do and now they’ve given him the mandate to do it.”

It is part of a broader, three-part budget plan. First, Brown needs the legislature to pass nearly $12 billion in spending cuts, then voters will vote in a special election to extend certain tax rates, and then the legislature will need to pass a final state budget.

Whatever the political cost, many analysts say Brown's redevelopment plan is precisely what California needs to do.

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