SAN FRANCISCO - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill authorizing $5 billion of revenue bonds to finance improvements to courtrooms around the state.
The bill is one of hundreds the governor is acting on in a compressed time period that will end today. Because of the state's record-setting delay enacting a budget, which was not signed until last week, Schwarzenegger had threatened to veto unrelated bills and lawmakers responded by withholding the legislation. The bills were sent to the governor last week after he signed the budget.
Normally the governor has the entire month of September to consider the bills coming out of the Legislature before its adjournment at the end of August.
Schwarzenegger said he signed the courthouse bond bill because it fit his objective of improving the state's infrastructure.
"This bill not only delivers on that promise to finance desperately needed construction projects, but it will also help create thousands of jobs for California workers," he said in a statement.
The bonds will help finance about 40 major capital court projects throughout California, according to its sponsor, Senate president pro tempore Don Perata, D-Oakland. Debt service will be financed with a variety of increased fines and court fees.
Schwarzenegger had vetoed 278 bills by Sunday, with 341 more awaiting action. Many vetoes came with a boilerplate message from the governor, saying he only had time to review the highest priority bills.
Bills rejected with that veto message included one to require conduit bond issuers to disclose more information about their operations, and a measure that would have permitted local governments to use tax increment revenue to finance so-called transit villages.
Schwarzenegger cited specific reasons for vetoing other public-finance related legislation.
He vetoed a bill designed to equalize the public benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals used by joint powers authorities and the state-run California Health Facilities Financing Authority.
"With interest rates rising and the capital markets in turmoil, it does not make sense to place more burdens on nonprofit health facilities seeking affordable financing," the governor wrote.
He also vetoed a bill that would have authorized school districts to issue general obligation bonds to finance teacher and staff housing.
"School districts should not add residential property management to their list of responsibilities," Schwarzenegger wrote. "This broadened authority would detract from their primary responsibility of educating students."
He also vetoed legislation to permit the creation of community facilities districts to help homeowners finance solar and renewable power installations. The bill was designed to allow "general law cities" to pursue a program being developed by Berkeley, a charter city, allowing homeowners to sign up for a financing program backed by a tax assessment on their property through a so-called Mello-Roos district.
"This provision represents a fundamental shift in the purpose of Mello-Roos taxes and is one that I cannot support," the veto message said.
Bills signed into law by the governor include legislation authorizing the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, an arm of the state treasurer's office, to enter into power purchase agreements with public and private entities for alternative source energy; and bills authorizing high-occupancy toll lanes in Riverside and Los Angeles counties.