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California Legislature

Hearing on cap-and-trade spending deal gets testy

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) expressed concern about cap-and-trade spending on Wednesday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) expressed concern about cap-and-trade spending on Wednesday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders may have reached a deal on spending $1.5 billion in cap-and-trade revenue, but some Democrats still have concerns.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) wondered during a budget hearing on Wednesday how much of the appropriations "were designed to meet certain expectations" of different interest groups and lawmakers who supported extending the cap-and-trade program earlier this year. The program requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, and the revenue is supposed to be spent on initiatives that further reduce emissions.

"There are a lot of Christmas trees out there," Jackson said. "Everybody wants to pluck a bit of the ornaments, but my concern overall is the whole accountability issue. As you identify these projects, are there certain expectations that you think that they are going to accomplish, because I haven’t seen them."

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) questioned a last-minute provision in the spending legislation that could give unions more leverage in negotiations with automakers. 

"Who is running this state?" he said.

The provision would ask state regulators to create a process for determining if automakers are "fair and responsible" in their treatment of workers. If they fall short of that standard, their vehicles could become ineligible for electric car rebates in the future.

Moorlach asked what "fair and responsible" meant. Amy Costa, chief deputy director at Brown's Department of Finance, said it would be up to state officials to develop the guidelines.

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