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California tribes fight for money

8 July 2008

SACRAMENTO, California -- As reported by the Press-Enterprise: "Inland governments and tribes are fighting to preserve millions in payments meant to help public agencies deal with the burdens of the region's tribal casinos.

"Local cities, sheriff's departments and other agencies have collected more than $40 million in gambling mitigation payments from a tribe-funded account since 2005, the most in the state. The money has paid for everything from traffic signals to police officers.

"But local governments haven't received anything in almost two years. The governor vetoed allocations for 2007-08. And payments for the current fiscal year and beyond are a question mark because the formula to distribute the money is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

"Meanwhile, the state's estimated $15.2 billion budget shortfall makes the account's $182 million balance a tempting target to pay for state services now supported by the general fund.

"...Riverside and San Bernardino counties, local cities and tribal leaders have stepped up lobbying efforts in recent weeks to get the money. Last month, a large delegation of Coachella Valley officials spoke at a Senate hearing on a bill dealing with the program..."

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