Labor's Edge Articles by Steve Smith
Gov. Brown Outlines Plan for Good Jobs
To some politicians, economic development means giving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to strip clubs, fast food joints and retail giants like Walmart. Gov. Brown, thankfully, has a better idea. Today, the Governor announced a broad coalition of labor, business and others in support of his good jobs plan that will flip the broken enterprise zone program into real incentives for creating quality, middle-class jobs.
"California’s 30-year-old Enterprise Zone program is not enterprising, it’s wasteful," Gov. Brown said. "It’s inefficient and not giving taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck. There’s a better way and it will help encourage manufacturing in California."
End the Enterprise Zone Abuse: Support Gov. Brown’s Good Jobs Proposal
You’ve probably seen the stories by now: Enterprise zone tax breaks, which are supposed to provide incentives for good jobs, are instead going to strip clubs and low-wage mega corporations like Walmart.
The current enterprise zone program is shrouded in secrecy, with virtually no accountability or transparency. Study after study shows the program is a massive failure, wasting $750 million a year without doing much of anything to create new jobs.
But momentum is building for much-need reform. Last week, Gov. Brown detailed his proposal to flip this broken system into a real job creation program that will help build our middle class.
Democratic and Republican State Senators Join California Labor to Call for Enterprise Zone Reform
We’ve been sounding the alarm on the need for enterprise zone (EZ) reform for years. The bloated, wasteful corporate tax giveaway program is bilking California taxpayers to the tune of $750 million a year without doing much, if anything, to create jobs. After last week’s KCRA investigative report, based on records the California Labor Federation obtained, revealed strip clubs were among the recipients of taxpayer dollars, there’s renewed momentum behind the reform efforts.
At a press conference today in front of Déjà Vu Showgirls in Rancho Cordova, Republican State Sen. Anthony Cannella and Democratic State Sen. Jerry Hill joined California Labor Federation's Sara Flocks to call on the Legislature to pass significant reforms this year to the program that’s gone horribly awry.
Report: Enterprise Zones Hide Tax Credit Information from Public
A stunning KCRA (Sacramento) investigative report on Tuesday revealed that strip club owners are among the recipients of taxpayer dollars under the state’s broken enterprise zone program. Last night, in part two of the exposé, KCRA revealed another major flaw of the EZ program: it’s shrouded in secrecy, giving the public no opportunity to see where their tax dollars are going, or whether the program is creating any jobs for the annual $750 million investment we’re making.
According to the KCRA report: "Tax credits are available to businesses in 40 enterprise zones across California. But despite the money coming from taxpayer dollars, the state won’t reveal online who receives it. In California’s fragile economy, every dollar counts. But a KCRA 3 investigation has revealed that hundreds of thousands of tax dollars are supporting strip clubs."
Effort to Stop Koch Brothers’ Takeover of LA Times Gains Momentum
“Don’t sell out to the Koch brothers / Don’t let the brothers in the door/ We don’t want them taking over / That is what we’re marching for.”
That was the message, as sung by acclaimed musician Ry Cooder, carried by hundreds of Los Angeles residents who marched and rallied today to urge Oaktree Capital Management not to sell the respected Los Angeles Times to right-wing extremists David and Charles Koch. The “No Koch Hate in LA” rally was sponsored by the LA County Federation of Labor and community allies.
The brothers have expressed interest in buying the Times and other media holdings of the Tribune Co., threatening the journalistic integrity of some of the nation’s most venerable media outlets and providing an unprecedented megaphone to the Kochs to push their radical agenda.
Governor’s May Revise Proposes Important Fixes to Broken Enterprise Zone Program
While there were lots of complicated formulas on things like health care funding and education in today’s May Revise of the California budget that will take some time to fully analyze, one thing is clear: The Governor is no fan of the broken enterprise zone (EZ) tax giveaway program. At least not in its current form.
Today’s Budget Revise proposes a major overhaul of the EZ program that would likely do away with some of the worst abuses that are costing the state hundreds of millions without producing jobs in return.
According to the May Revise, “Created over 25 years ago, the Enterprise Zone program should be reshaped to meet the needs of the current economy. In its current form it fails to encourage the creation of new jobs and instead rewards moving jobs from one place to another within the state."
Statewide Tour to Pass AB 880 & Close the “Walmart Loophole” Kicks Off in West Sacramento
Walmart shoppers probably didn’t expect to be greeted this morning at 5am by a lively group of taxpayers protesting the “Walmart Loophole,” which allows large companies like Walmart to avoid their responsibilities to pay their fair share for their workers' health care. But that’s exactly what they encountered in West Sacramento.
About 30 demonstrators launched a statewide tour today aimed at educating shoppers and the media about Walmart’s practice of paying its workers so little that they are pushed into taxpayer-funded programs like Medi-Cal. The group also handed out information about AB 880 (Gomez), which would mandate that the state’s largest and most profitable companies pay their fair share when their workers end up on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.
New Report: Taxpayers on the Hook When Corporate Giants Dump Workers onto Medi-Cal
For years, we’ve known big companies like Walmart have been shifting their health care costs onto taxpayers. Now a new report from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research shows just how widespread the problem is, projecting that as many as 380,000 workers for big companies will end up on the state’s Medi-Cal program by 2019.
For taxpayers, that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. In 2011, Walmart made $477 billion in profits. The company’s CEO raked in nearly $21 million last year. And yet, Walmart and other large companies don’t think twice about cutting workers’ hours and wages to such a low level that workers have to get health care through taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.
Pulaski in OC Register: “Enterprise Zone Boondoggle”
What’s wrong with California’s enterprise zone (EZ) program? In today’s Orange County Register, California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski lays it out. And it’s a long and ugly list.
In an op-ed titled “Enterprise Zone Boondoggle,” Pulaski blasts the EZ program as a “bloated mess of wasteful government spending” that’s costing taxpayers more than $700 million a year without creating new jobs. "Tax credits can make California more competitive, if done properly. But when a wasteful government program like enterprise zones picks winners and losers, takes money out of our schools, encourages low-wage hires over middle-class jobs and does nothing to provide incentive to create new jobs, we call that a boondoggle," Pulaski wrote.
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