Redevelopment Agencies

Sustainable Communities Bill: Modest, but Much-Needed Replacement for Redevelopment in California

By Madeline Janis
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

Finally, there is some potential good news on the horizon for affordable housing, job creation, and environmental advocates in California. Just this afternoon, the State Senate approved SB 1156 (Steinberg), a bill that will allow cities and counties to create Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities to promote high road economic development in targeted areas. If approved by the state assembly and signed by the governor, SB 1156 will create a much more transparent and sustainable version of redevelopment agencies and give cities and counties a new tool to create desperately needed affordable housing, good jobs and a healthy environment. The legislation also specifically protects schools and fire districts from having any funds diverted for redevelopment purposes.

Corporate Tax Loopholes: The REAL Waste, Fraud and Abuse in California’s Budget

By Rebecca Band
California Labor Federation

One BILLION Dollars. That’s how much California gives away every year to big corporations, thanks to a wasteful tax loophole that actually incentivizes companies to close up shop in California and move those jobs elsewhere.

According to LA Times columnist George Skelton:

You might think a tax law that rewards companies for killing California jobs and resurrecting them in another state would be dumped. Very quickly. Especially if it also rewards them for selling off property here and rebuilding elsewhere. Or, put another way, if the law provides a tax incentive not to hire or invest in California in the first place. You'd repeal it. A no-brainer.

RIP, Community Redevelopment Agency

By Madeline Janis
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

On February 1, 2012, I will be out of a job. That’s because at 12:01 a.m., more than 400 California redevelopment agencies will go out of business, including the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (LACRA), where I have served as a volunteer (meaning unpaid) commissioner for nine-and-a-half years. California’s $6 billion annual economic development program used by cities to revitalize distressed neighborhoods will disappear.

This is happening because of the legislature’s adoption of Assembly Bill 26X, which  was upheld by the California Supreme Court on December 29, 2011. While the consequences for me are different than for the hundreds of LACRA employees who will eventually lose their livelihoods, it’s still a personal blow.

Jobs Committee Chair Bows to Corporate Interests, Stalls Job-Saving Bill

By Steve Smith
California Labor Federation

You’d think the priority of the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy would be creating and protecting jobs. You’d never know it after a committee vote yesterday on AB 1278. By voting against AB 1278, Committee Chair V. Manuel Perez stalled important legislation that would have prevented companies from laying off workers to claim big tax breaks as part of the flawed Enterprise Zone program.

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), sought to protect jobs in today’s harsh economic environment while helping end the practice of rewarding companies that lay off workers with taxpayer subsidies. The bill failed to get out of the committee on a 3-3 vote. Perez joined the two Republicans on the committee in voting against the bill.

There’s a Hole in the Budget Bucket

By Sara Flocks
California Labor Federation

Uh-oh. It looks like there’s a hole in the bucket Governor Brown is using to bail out the state. After Republicans refused to let voters decide on tax extensions, the legislature scrambled to put together a budget that avoided cutting essential services like education and public safety. In the end, Governor Brown signed a budget into law that depended on $4 billion in projected new revenues to close the gap.

Eliminating Tax Subsidies & Failed Enterprise Zone Program Should Be Sacramento’s First Priority

By Willie L. Pelote, Sr.

Higher than expected tax receipts have set off a new debate in Sacramento about what to do with the new monies.

California Governor Jerry Brown said that he wants to stabilize public education funding and repay past borrowing.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the state assembly recently voted to restore $440 million to child care programs that help low-income families find work.

Although the new tax receipts have effectively cut the state’s current budget deficit in half, Governor Brown should not devote one penny from this unexpected windfall toward propping up the state’s failed enterprise zone program, which funnels precious taxpayer dollars into the pockets of private businesses through wasteful tax subsidies.

Brown Sticks to His Guns on Redevelopment Waste

By Paul Hogarth
Beyond Chron

There’s a lot to like in Jerry Brown’s “May Revise” for the Budget, which includes reversing $3 billion in proposed cuts to public schools. But more significant is what he did not change: the Governor still plans to eliminate redevelopment agencies, which rob billions from local government that could fund crucial services. Given the hysterical response he got from the League of California Cities back in January, and the powerful interests for Redevelopment, Brown could have diverted some of the $6.6 billion in extra revenue to end an explosive political conflict.

Top Ten Reasons to Shut Down Enterprise Zones

By Sara Flocks
California Labor Federation

1. A FAILURE: They’re a job creation program---that DOESN’T CREATE JOBS!
2. TOO EXPENSIVE: Taxpayers have spent $3.6 billion on the program since 1986 and the total cost has grown by 35% each year on average.
3. MONEY FOR BIG CORPORATIONS, NOT SMALL BUSINESS: Major corporations with assets over $1 billion, like Wells Fargo and Nordstrom’s, benefit the most from the program. Even big banks get a cut!
4. REWARDS HIGH TURNOVER: The hiring tax credit is for new “hires” not new jobs and the amount of the credit decreases the longer a worker stays on the job.
5. REWARDS LOW-WAGE JOBS: The hiring credit caps at 150% of minimum wage, meaning that employers have an incentive not to pay higher wages—it doesn’t increase how much free money they get.

Workers to State Legislators: Stop ‘Sweetheart’ Enterprise Zone Deals

By Steve Smith and Rebecca Greenberg
California Labor Federation

Each and every California state legislator received a very special Valentine personally delivered by a Teamster yesterday – a box of chocolates with an important message: Stop the Sweetheart Enterprise Zone deals!

The Teamsters know firsthand the negative effects of the wasteful and failed Enterprise Zone program. VWR (a medical distribution company in Brisbane), was recently bought by a private equity firm that told union workers at the company that it was closing the Brisbane operation and moving to Visalia, which is in a Targeted Tax Area, part of the Enterprise Zone program.

Rants & Raves for the Week of February 7th, 2011

By California Labor Federation

  • Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has a new way of dealing with people who take a stand for what they believe in – it’s called jail. In a major shift in city policy, he is seeking jail time for dozens of peaceful protesters, including students and veterans calling for educational opportunities and union members seeking help for laid off janitors. Previous prosecutors had treated the protest-related violations as infractions, but Trutanich wants the protesters to spend up to one year in county jail. Not only does this approach threaten our free speech rights, it also wastes city and county resources when we can least afford it. As LA City Councilman Ed Reyes put it: "We should be incarcerating those who are truly public threats as opposed to students who are raising their voices out of passion for a cause."