SACREMENTO, CA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — As the California legislative session came to a close, one of the last bills approved was a measure that cleared the way for Anschutz Entertainment Group to be eligible for millions of dollars in state housing money, the LA Times reported.
The bill, AB 1053 was introduced by Los Angeles democrat Fabian Nunez, the Assembly Speaker allows AEG's L.A. Staples Center project to bid for $2.8 billion in bond money that had been earmarked for affordable housing. AEG would use the money to make street improvements in the Figueroa Street corridor where AEG is working on a downtown entertainment complex.
Governor Schwarzenegger, a strong proponent of the bill has been a major recipient of campaign contributions from AEG affiliated groups in the past few years, collecting a cool 225,000 since 2004. The Governor isn't the only one – according to The Times, more than $927,000 has flowed from AEG to lawmakers since 2005, including 100,000 to support a "committee" called Rebuilding California, which has pushed ballot initiatives related to infrastructure improvements.
Advocates of affordable housing have voiced strong objection to the bill. "This unfairly gives them entree to have their projects subsidized," Paul Zimmerman, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Non-Profit Housing told the L.A. Times "A major question, is whether a major corporation that owns part of the Lakers needs taxpayer subsidies to make affordable housing possible."
Lawmakers have also raised objection to the last minute rush-treatment the bill got. "I just didn't feel like we had enough time to analyze it," Republican Senator Dave Cox told the Times.
Other lawmakers though, have defended the measure. Pointing out that AEG has only been made eligible to apply for the bond money, a spokesman for Sen. Fabian Nuñez told the Times that "What they are being made eligible for is to apply. We are not earmarking anything," – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers