LOS ANGELES - California's budget problems got $350 million bigger last week, following a court decision that will boost the state's redevelopment agencies by the same amount.

Redevelopment agencies filed suit after lawmakers adopted a budget last September that shifted $350 million to the general fund from RDAs around the state, arguing that the shift violated state constitutional language authorizing redevelopment, and was also an unconstitutional impairment of the agencies' bond contracts.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled against the state government Thursday, according to a news release from the California Redevelopment Association.

His ruling prohibits the state from forcing county auditors to divert $350 million in redevelopment funds to finance state obligations, the group said.

"Obviously the state is dealing with very difficult financial problems, but taking away local government redevelopment funds is unconstitutional," John Shirey, executive director of the association, said in a statement.

There was no immediate response from a state finance spokesman.

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