Green Jobs

California Green Job Initiative's Broken Promises

Disappointment doesn't stop backers from offering new promises

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When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed California's anti-global-warming law (AB 32) in 2006, he did so amid fanfare over a predicted boom in "green jobs." Gov. Jerry Brown likewise has used the promise of an emerging low-pollution economy to ameliorate fears over the loss of traditional jobs as "cap-and-trade" policies boost costs for the state's businesses.

Green jobs have been growing rapidly percentage-wise, but that's mainly a function of the tiny size of this sector. Fortune magazine reported on a "big spike" of 9,800 green jobs nationwide over three months — but that's still a pittance in a nation of 320 million people. California didn't top that list.

This slow performance explains the recent brouhaha over an Associated Press report about the failure of 2012's Proposition 39 to live up to its goals. The "Clean Energy Jobs Act" – which closed a corporate tax loophole and diverted the extra revenue to green-energy projects in public schools — claimed it would create 11,000 jobs a year.

"Money is trickling in at a slower-than-anticipated rate, and more than half of the $297 million given to schools so far has gone to consultants and energy auditors," according to AP. "The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has never met … ."

The "yes" ballot argument promised "a complete and full accounting of all funds and expenditures, and full public disclosure." That was supposed to come from the official disclosure process — not from an enterprising reporter who revealed that instead of 33,000 new jobs over three years, the initiative has created only 1,700 jobs.

The report has sparked the usual Capitol response. Republican legislators have called for oversight hearings. They were joined by Democrat Henry Perea of Fresno, who likewise said the state ought to "see how the money is being spent, where it is being spent and seeing if Prop. 39 is fulfilling the promise that it said it would." That seems reasonable.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, and his fellow Proposition 39 co-chairman, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, responded with a statement: "It's irresponsible and more than a little misleading to prejudge a long-term, multiyear program this early in the process."

How does the multiyear nature of the process explain why the oversight committee has never even met? Although such programs clearly need time to evolve, that's not the line Proposition 39's backers were using while they were touting the measure.

"(I)n the campaign three years ago, promoters promised fast results, and officials responsible for making unbiased assessments of ballot measures made certain guarantees," wrote a Sacramento Bee editorial recently. The newspaper, which endorsed the measure in 2012, noted that voters "hate being manipulated."

Not to be too cynical, but voters ought to be used to such manipulation by now when it comes to ballot measures. They approved a $68-billion high-speed-rail project in 2008 that offered specific guarantees — few of which are included in the current rail plan. In 2012, they approved Proposition 30, which increased taxes to bolster education spending. It's old news now, but public schools only get a portion of the extra cash.

There's more here than another initiative that fails to live up to its hype. Many observers (including the Union-Tribune editorial board) had problems with the old loophole – i.e., giving companies with multistate operations a choice of methods for calculating their state tax burden. Instead of closing it and easing taxes for other businesses, Proposition 39 created a program built on bold claims about the future economy. More than 61 percent of voters agreed.

De Leon is now pushing a bill (SB 350) that would impose other costly mandates on businesses (cutting gasoline use by 50 percent, increasing the use of renewable energy to 50 percent and doubling the energy efficiency of current buildings by 2030). The pitch includes familiar lingo about a green-jobs revolution.

Sure, revolutions take time. But is it irresponsible to suggest the public consider the failed results of past promises before they embrace new promises from many of the same people?

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  1. “It’s irresponsible and more than a little misleading to prejudge a long-term, multiyear program this early in the process.”

    “I mean, at least wait a few years after my cronies have kicked back to me some of their profits from this scheme and I’ve been long out of office before you start delving into details.”

  2. Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, and his fellow Proposition 39 co-chairman, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, responded with a statement: “It’s irresponsible and more than a little misleading to prejudge a long-term, multiyear program this early in the process.”

    Actual Meaning:

    “It’s irresponsible to point out that I and my political and business partners are lying sacks of $hit.”

    There, fully translated.

  3. OF COURSE the “Green Jobs” promise has been broken. Every single political promise made by the Green faction has prove. To be unmitigated bullshit. I get really, REALLY angry at the way a serious issue with a sound basis in historical practice has beenturned into a passel of Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive imbecility.

    1. Of course, I feel that way about a lot of LIRP “issues”.

  4. The problem lies with the stupid California voters who still believe that government is a force for good.

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  6. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  7. HEY! Let’s be fair, dammit. The Democratic Republican People’s State of China has an environment today that is the envy of everyone who ever strapped on an explosive suicide vest. Certainly after Socialist China published its 710-page report affirming the Revelation condemning capitalist greed as responsible for making the world a rotisserie, the least we can do is overlook a few kilotons of cyanide explosions and try to minimize the body count. Mother Jones, Utne, Tikkun, Monthly Review, The Nation and Workers’ World are doubtless full of articles explaining how these things either never happened or are inconsequential. Ecological National Socialism will save the world if only we have faith.

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