The Legislative Analyst’s Office is required to pretend as if Sacramento is not a place where public policy debates usually revolve around the question of how to best disguise the fact that just about everything state government does is dedicated to protecting the interests of public employees. That’s why I got such a kick out of the LAO’s earnest exhortation Thursday that the up to $14 billion a year that will be forthcoming from AB 32 cap-and-trade fees be spent in a thoughtful manner. Are you kidding me, LAO? This is California! That is not an option!
Let’s parse the L.A. Times report on the LAO’s analysis. Times’ reporting is in italics. Gov. Brown …:
suggested spending $1 billion of the money generated by the first (pollution rights) auction, scheduled for August, on renewable energy development and infrastructure. He also wants to put about $500 million toward the state’s general fund and has spoken about using future revenues to help finance a controversial high-speed rail line linking Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
LOL. Brown sees the money as an all-purpose kitty to help his preferred initiatives. What a naif. It’s far more likely to go to public employee compensation, one way or the other, including being used to put off otherwise-inevitable pension reductions.
Business groups contend that the money should be returned to companies who have to pay higher fees to meet California’s new emissions requirements. The Air Resources Board, which designed the cap-and-trade program, has proposed returning the money to consumers to compensate them for possibly higher energy prices.
It’d ludicrous to think the Legislature will suddenly start caring about the burdens it places on the private sector. It’s 90 percent as ludicrous to think that the Legislature will suddenly start caring about the needy. The funds are primarily going to public employee compensation, one way or the other.
But what’s most ludicrous of all is the Times’ reporter’s reference to “possibly higher energy prices.” Is Nicholas Riccardi angling for a job with CARB or NRDC or the Sierra Club? It takes a stunning level of deceit or stupidity to pretend AB 32 isn’t a lock to force energy prices up.
The legislative analyst’s report raises red flags for Brown. It warns that the amount of money generated by the program will fluctuate wildly from year to year. “This means that they may be more appropriately used for one-time or short-term, purposes rather than for the support of ongoing programs or tax reductions,” it states.
So does the LAO really think that the revenue volatility issue matters to Brown when he’s on record for months as supporting a budget “fix” that adds to the volatility problem by increasing taxes on the very rich? LOL. The LAO should get out more.
The report also cautioned that the state can only legally spend the money on easing the impact of greenhouse gases — or muster a two-thirds vote of legislators to spend it elsewhere.
“Appropriate uses of the revenues for mitigation purposes could potentially include expenditures on energy and water-use efficiency programs, alternative fuel programs and investments in renewable energy projects,” the report states.
Anyone who believes that legal obstacles to diverting the extra revenue to public employee compensation will matter are fools. This is California. The Legislature’s primary function is to act as the tax collector for the union state.
I’d love to see what sort of report on this or many other issues that Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor would put out if he were pumped full of truth potion and amphetamines.
Mac? How about it?