To get Republicans and business groups on board to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program, Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders in the Legislature agreed to several provisions:
▪ Suspending the state’s six-year-old fee paid by some 800,000 rural property owners for fire prevention. Republicans, who represent many of the areas where the fee is charged, have been trying to get rid of it for years through the courts and legislation. On average, property owners pay about $117 a year.
▪ Extending through 2030 an existing sales tax break for manufacturers and research and development companies.
▪ Eliminating sales and use tax that energy companies pay on purchases for renewable energy projects, such as solar, biomass and wind energy.
▪ A constitutional amendment that would require a one-time, two-thirds vote in 2024 to reset spending of the cap-and-trade revenues. Republicans see this as a future way to cut off funding for high-speed rail, a project most of their members detest.
Brown and leaders also agreed on a couple things to help assuage liberal Democrats:
▪ Assembly Bill 617 – a companion bill by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens – was added to the package to help poor communities that advocates say are disproportionately hurt by air pollution. Most environmental justice organizations, however, say it does not go far enough.
▪ Brown, who has been at odds with liberal lawmakers over ongoing funding and his demand for streamlined environmental review to build housing, has agreed to work toward a deal.