Capitol Alert

New spending control could win Republican votes for climate bill

Republicans proposed a constitutional amendment Friday that could help win their support for legislation to extend the state’s climate-fighting cap-and-trade program.

The new measure, written by Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, would give the minority party more say over how the program’s revenues are spent.

Under the amendment, cap-and-trade auction revenue would be diverted into a new reserve fund beginning in 2024. The money would remain there until lawmakers approved a new spending plan with a two-thirds vote. During that time, business-friendly tax breaks in the extension bill would be suspended. The super-majority vote requirement would apply just once.

If passed by the Legislature, the constitutional amendment would require voter approval.

Mayes’ office declined to comment on the amendment, including whether it was enough to get them on board.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, said Friday that Assembly Republicans were holding out for more. In particular, he said, GOP lawmakers want more than 12 percent of the cap-and-trade revenue to go to agricultural uses. Under current law, 25 percent of the revenue goes to Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail project.

Brown has been pressing to a win a two-thirds vote on the main cap-and-trade bill, AB 398. The Democratic governor has said he wants Republicans to back the extension. A vote is scheduled for Monday.

Amendments to the main cap-and trade legislation were also issued late Friday. They would expand the scope of the bill’s tax breaks for manufacturers and power companies, which supporters said would help support more small businesses. A spokesman for Assembly Republicans said they were reviewing these changes.

Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this story.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago