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Assembly, on bipartisan vote, demands approval before state buildings are sold

The state Assembly this week overwhelmingly approved a measure requiring legislative approval before the  Schwarzenegger administration sells off 11 state-owned buildings to help balance the budget.

The bi-partisan, 58-0 vote on Thursday sent the bill to the Senate.

The administration has proposed selling the buildings – including the California Supreme Court and the Emergency Management Agency – to raise an estimated $2 billion, part of the administration’s attempt to resolve an estimated $20 billion shortage.

The legislation was created after an April 28 hearing by the Democrat-controlled Assembly Accountability Committee raised concerns about the long-term costs of the plan to sell state buildings and then lease them back from private owners. 

A report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the lawmakers’ nonpartisan fiscal adviser, that was prepared for the committee found that leasing state buildings would cost $5 billion more than owning them during a 35-year period after the sale. 

The legislation, AB 2605 was authored by Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, D-Southgate, the chairman of the committee.

“This legislation will allow the Legislature to fully understand the costs of selling vital state buildings before it makes a decision as to whether a sale makes sense,” De La Torre said in a written statement released by his office.

The bill will require the state Department of General Services, once it selects an offer from bidders, to provide the Legislature with a cost-benefit analysis that examines the costs of owning the buildings versus the costs of leasing the buildings for the next 50 years.  It also allows the Legislature, based on that information, to authorize or deny the sale.


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