Thursday, November 05, 2015 by Greg White
Californians are understandably upset. The much hyped “green jobs” initiative more commonly known as Proposition 39 is a total greenwash fiasco. Now, California lawmakers from both parties are trying to figure out who is to blame.
In 2012, California voters approved a ballot measure that was promised to increase taxes on corporations and produce clean energy jobs. The legislature decided to give half the money to schools to help fund clean energy projects. California voters were promised that the initiative would produce approximately 11,000 jobs a year.(1)
Three years later, the promises that fueled proposition 30 have yet to come to fruition. According to an Associated Press report, money is trickling in at a lower than anticipated rate. More than half of the $297 million given to schools has wound up in the hands of tax auditors and consultants. In addition, only 1,700 hundred jobs have been created in three years.(1)
“It’s clear to me that the Legislature should immediately hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of why yet another promise to the voters has been broken,” Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, said in a recent press release.(2)
The State Energy Commission was supposed to oversee the spending of Proposition 39. Nevertheless, the Commission failed to provide any information about completed projects. Furthermore, they did not calculate energy savings, since it is not mandatory for schools to provide reports for 15 months after a project is completed, according to spokeswoman Amber Beck. Although Proposition 39 derailed some time ago, Bech believes the initiative is still on the right track.(2)
“Not enough data has been collected for the nine-member oversight board of professors, engineers and climate experts to meet,” she stated.(1)
Similar remarks were made be Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, and billionaire Tom Steyer, who contributed $30 million to the initiative. “We have every confidence that, as more projects break ground and come on line, Californians in every region of the state will increasingly realize the full benefits of improvements that make schools stronger and more energy-efficient,” they said in a joint statement.(2)
This statement was made by the same Tom Steyer who promised voters it would provide $550 million annually to the Clean Jobs Energy Fund. The numbers have not lived up to their expectations. It only brought in $381 million in 2013, $279 million in 2014 and $313 million in 2015.(1)
Representatives have only done lip services to the initiative, but California voters want to see results. Not a single project that the state allocated $12.6 million to has been completed in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is home to almost 1,000 schools. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about the AP report’s findings.(1)
“We should hold some oversight hearings 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,” said Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno.(2)
“Where’s the oversight? We are talking about giving away a whole lot of power to unelected bureaucracies,” stated Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher of Nicolaus.(2)
School district officials claim that they are expected to meet their 2018 deadline to request funds, and their 2020 deadline to finish projects. The claim that the money will go towards long-term school projects. The Energy Commission claims that they should be able to identify jobs created by proposition 39 by November.(1)
Douglas Johnson, a state government expert at Claremont McKenna College, expressed his outrage over the Energy Commission’s oversight of Proposition 39.
“They should have been overseeing all stages of this project, not just waiting until the money’s gone and seeing where it went,” Johnson remarked.(1, 2)