Alt Opinion: Passing Prop 23 Essential for California’s Economic Future

Editor’s Note: We have been running posts about California’s Prop 23 for the last 2 weeks and have been approached by some folks who believe differently than we do. In the interest of open dialogue today we are offering another point of view on Proposition 23, this one from former White House energy advisor Jack Rafuse.

By Dr. Jack Rafuse

Proponents of California’s landmark environmental legislation Assembly Bill 32 (AB32), the Global Warming Solutions Act, intend to implement unprecedented steps to force renewable energy use and reduce emissions throughout America’s largest state. These are worthy goals, but California cannot afford such a massive regulatory burden right now.

California’s electorate has the opportunity to reverse the course of this far-reaching and burdensome legislation. When voters go to the polls in November, ballot measure Proposition 23 (Prop 23) may be the most important vote that they will cast. This vote is vital; passage of Prop 23 is essential for the future economic health of California.

When Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32 into law in 2006, the economic environment was a lot different, and the long time until implementation gave public officials much less concern. Now, unfortunately, California is running the nation’s highest budget deficit and still has the third-highest unemployment rate. If Prop 23 fails, AB 32 will be fully implemented, severely exacerbating the job and budgetary situation, increasing energy prices and forcing more businesses to move out-of-state.

A new study released this week provides a specific – and troubling – demonstration of AB 32’s negative impact on the state’s job market. In The Prospective Effects of Proposition 23 on Employment in California, author Benjamin Zycher calculates that AB 32 will eliminate the jobs of 5 percent of the working-age population statewide. Thus, with a labor force of roughly 18,326,000 working-age citizens in California, enacting AB 32 will force more than 916,000 workers onto the state’s unemployment line.

What is more, suspending AB 32 will lower energy costs for state and local governments. With many of these localities deeply in the red, this savings is greatly needed. And if Prop 23 passes, consumers struggling to pay mortgages and keep their jobs will be saved from energy price spikes, too.

Let us all hope that Golden State voters move past the rhetoric and vote for Prop 23 – a vote for California jobs, investment and fiscal discipline. If passed, Prop 23 will overturn AB 32 until the state’s unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters. That delay will give policymakers time to find ways to restore the health of California’s job market and balance sheet, while at the same time renewing efforts toward a global warming policy that benefits the state’s citizens, its environment and its economy.

Dr. Jack Rafuse, a former White House energy advisor, is principal of the Rafuse Organization. Dr. Rafuse worked for a California-based international energy company for more than 25 years. Visit the Rafuse Organization online or on Twitter at @JackRafuse.

Please visit our Prop 23 series for more points of view, as well as the contact information of Leon Kaye, who is editing the series.

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