A new charter school in affluent Ross Valley marks the latest chapter in California’s education wars.
When Californians passed Proposition 39 last year, they voted for more carbon reduction, school improvements and jobs – all through a five-year, $2.5 billion program using revenues from newly closed tax loopholes to pay for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Now state policymakers are making critical decisions as they craft the guidelines for this massive new investment.
School facilities are the primary target of Proposition 39 retrofitting efforts. But if the measure is going to deliver on its promises of carbon reduction, healthier schools and neighborhoods, long-term career opportunities and a timely economic boost for communities that need it the most, the proposition needs to be implemented right.
I’ve been studying the green jobs sector since its early days, and my research and observations suggest some important recommendations.
When voters approved Proposition 39 last November, they were voting for good clean-energy jobs, and energy efficiency projects in public schools and other public facilities that would save taxpayers money.
The proposition closed a corporate tax loophole and will provide up to $550 million annually in savings that, in the first four years, will go toward energy efficiency projects. An article that recently appeared in the industry press with the headline, “HVAC Contractor Ordered to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Violating Labor Law,” offers a cautionary tale for state lawmakers who are now considering how to spend those funds.
The article reports that California labor commissioner Julie Su ordered Ace Cooling & Heating Corporation, a contractor that installs heating and cooling systems for buildings, to pay nearly a million dollars in fines and wages to 10 employees for their work on a modernization project at El Camino Community College in Torrance.
Why does California reward ultra-rich companies that move jobs out of the state?
We’ll tell you why. In 2009, during secret, behind-closed-doors budget negotiations, a handful of state legislators and Gov. Schwarzenegger snuck in a colossal but little-known corporate tax giveaway into the budget in the dead of night. This loophole, known as the “elective single sales factor,” gives corporations the option to reduce the taxes they pay to California by keeping jobs and investment in other states – giving companies a huge incentive to hire outside of California. The loophole has already cost the state tens of thousands of jobs, and the only ones who are benefitting from it are California’s richest corporations. In fact, 80 percent of the benefits from this loophole go to the 0.1 percent of California corporations with gross incomes over $1 billion.
It’s high time we end the practice of shelling out taxpayer money to ultra-profitable companies that kill California jobs.