California CityNews proudly presents an exclusive interview with Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian (AD 35) regarding his transition from local government to the California State Legislature and the struggles between State and Local Government that exist today. Assembly Member Achadjian currently serves as Chair of the Local Government Committee and is a former Supervisor for San Luis Obispo County.
What was the biggest change for you in moving from a County Supervisors seat to the state legislature?
As a County Board of Supervisor, we worked together in a bipartisan matter and were able to deliver a balanced budget. Having to deal with State bureaucracy and the massive size of the State government has been quite a change.
Many city leaders have expressed concern at the loss of local control over the past few years; do you agree with this assessment? Do you see the trend continuing?
As a former County Board of Supervisor for San Luis Obispo County, I know firsthand some of the unintended consequences that can result from taking a one size fits all approach for many issues facing the State. As the Legislature moves bills through the process, it is imperative that each bill that affects local governments is carefully examined while keeping in mind the importance of maintaining local control. As Chair of the Local Government Committee I carefully examine each piece of legislation brought before me; I will continue to work hard to ensure that no further control is taken away, and to look for additional ways to empower local governments.
What has been the most significant legislative accomplishment as Chairman of the Local Government Committee?
Replacing the outdated Enterprise Zone Program with the Economic Development Initiative is one of my most significant accomplishments as Chair. The new Economic Development Initiative provides tax credits to businesses who hire veterans, welfare recipients, and others who traditionally have difficulty finding employment. It also provides a statewide tax exemption for manufacturing equipment for manufacturers located anywhere in the state and it allows the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to customize incentives to meet the needs of specific industries. The passage of the Initiative is an example of what can be accomplished when the Legislature can come together to do what is best for the State. It marked a significant milestone in our efforts to put all Californians back to work.
Do you envision any replacement for redevelopment agencies that were eliminated a few years ago by Governor Brown? What might that look like?
It is my hope that the State Legislature can work together to find a way to replace the benefits that were provided by redevelopment agencies. During my time on the Local Government Committee, I was able to see firsthand what good came from the agencies. Any replacement would look like a tool that would provide affordable housing and transportation infrastructure, create additional business opportunities, and expand government services.
How has realignment worked and what do you think we will see next in prison reform?
Realignment has presented a variety of difficulties for many local governments in California. I have heard feedback from various groups about the degrees of success it has had, both positive and negative. As far as the next prison reform goes, I believe we will see change in how prisons and jails handle the rehabilitation and release of prisoners to help them get back on track as contributing members of society.
What do you think cities might expect in the next legislative session?
With a severe drought plaguing California, I believe issues surrounding water rights and local control will be a hot topic among constituents and legislators as we explore the ways to fairly address the need for water across the State.
What do you think counties can expect in the next legislative session?
Similar to what cities can expect, I believe counties will find that water rights and ways to address the severe drought in California will be discussed at length. In addition, as the State economy continues to improve, it is my hope that both cities and counties will benefit from that growth. I hope that the Legislature will continue to empower counties to have the ability to make decisions at a local level.