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Prop 39 chairs de León and Steyer: Program needs more time

Craig Clough | August 18, 2015

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State Senator Kevin de Leon

State Senator Kevin de Leon

In response to a critical story by the Associated Press that concluded the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) has failed to meet its stated goals, two of the campaign’s co-chairs said the program needs more time to benefit schools.

“It’s irresponsible and more than a little misleading to prejudge a long-term, multi-year program this early in the process,” Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Tom Steyer said in a statement, referring to a story that circulated yesterday. “We are disappointed that the Associated Press did not take time to present an objective or comprehensive analysis of what is still a developing program.”

The program, passed three years ago by California voters, closed a tax loophole for multi-state corporations while intending to funnel half of the savings to clean energy projects in schools. It promised to generate more than 11,000 jobs each year.

However, the AP pointed out:

Three years after California voters passed a ballot measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools, barely one-tenth of the promised jobs have been created, and the state has no comprehensive list to show how much work has been done or how much energy has been saved.


The AP also concluded:

  • The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has not met once.
  • Only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years.
  • Not one project for which the state allocated $12.6 million has been completed at LA Unified. Two schools were scheduled this summer to receive lighting retrofits and heating and cooling upgrades, but no construction work has been done.
  • de Leon previously estimated LAUSD would save up to $27 million a year on energy costs, but projects proposed by the district so far would save only $1.4 million
  • $153 million of the $297 million given to schools has gone for energy planning by consultants and auditors.
  • Proponents such as de Leon and Steyer told voters it would send up to $550 million annually to the Clean Jobs Energy Fund, but it brought in just $381 million in 2013, $279 million in 2014 and $313 million in 2015.

The statement from Steyer — a billionaire who funded the ballot measure with $30 million of his own money — and de Leon did not address most of the specific issues the AP story brought to light. They did claim California schools are saving $25 million in annual energy costs by pursuing projects that are creating thousands of clean-energy jobs and that most school districts are either “in the planning phase or are preparing to launch large-scale, intensive retrofit projects that will maximize benefits to students, school sites and the California economy.”

They added, “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 while building on our state’s position as America’s clean-energy jobs leader.”

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