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Green Tax Break Program To Continue

Andrea Alonso |
October 20, 2011 | 9:32 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer supports the green tax break program (Courtesy Creative Commons)
California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer supports the green tax break program (Courtesy Creative Commons)
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer voiced his continuing support Wednesday for a program that authorized more than $100 million in tax breaks for alternative-energy companies, despite the bankruptcy of Solyndra LLC.

At a joint hearing of two state Senate committees, Lockyer said the tax exemptions for advanced-transportation and alternative-energy projects were necessary to create more job opportunities in the state and served as "a model for how tax expenditure statutes ought to be written."

Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat of Los Angeles who sponsored the bill that created the tax breaks, said more measures need to be taken to keep alternative-energy jobs in California. 

Padilla pointed out that although many solar companies have their headquarters and research facilities in Silicon Valley, they choose to manufacture their products elsewhere.

The program has been scrutinized by several California lawmakers after the solar panel company Solyndra LLC filed bankruptcy after receiving $25 million in state tax breaks and a $528 million federal loan. 

Lenny Goldberg of the California Tax Reform Association doubted the program helped keep jobs in California, citing a report from the treasurer’s office that showed just 653 manufacturing jobs were created from the $104 million in tax breaks--$160,000 taxpayer dollars for one new job. 

In addition, several companies that received tax breaks have relocated out of state, meaning no new job opportunities were created in California.

"It's hard to know what benefits we actually get," Goldberg said in a statement. "There are many, many highly questionable elements."

To fix these issues, Lockyer proposed a “clawback” provision that would reimburse California if a company were to leave the state after receiving tax breaks, as well as stricter requirements for companies to alter business plans after applying for tax exemptions. 

Of the nine senators present at the hearing Wednesday, none proposed to repeal the tax break program.


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