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Schwarzenegger cuts Williamson Act

Wes Sander, Capital Press 7/28/09

SACRAMENTO - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed Williamson Act funding from the state budget.

Schwarzenegger signed the budget Tuesday after using his veto power to cut $656 million in program funding that lawmakers approved last week.

Among the cuts was the Williamson Act, through which the state pays local governments subventions -money that replace property taxes lost when jurisdictions enter contracts with landowners to preserve farmland in exchange for lower tax assessments.

Schwarzenegger cut the state's $35 million subvention fund to the token amount of $1,000, "effectively suspending the program," according to a summary from the governor's office. The move is consistent with Schwarzenegger's past proposals to eliminate Williamson Act funding.

Lawmakers, currently on summer recess, could still override the vetoes. The Williamson Act enjoys broad political support.

Local governments must honor the lower property tax assessment rates even if they don't receive the subventions.

Staff writer Wes Sander is based in Sacramento. E-mail: wsander@capitalpress.com.

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