California was built with a vision that prioritized investments in our future. From creating a world-class infrastructure to seeding innovation through our schools and universities, investments fueled the economic miracle that once was our state. But as those investments dried up in recent years, we’ve risked tearing the very fabric of California.
It’s time to chart a different course.
Today, the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council unveiled Labor’s new “Invest in California” jobs plan, which focuses on renewing the state’s commitment to innovation and investments that built an economy of broadly shared prosperity.
The six-point plan calls for significant investments in areas that support job growth, while at the same time calling for an end to wasteful state spending on corporate tax breaks that encourage outsourcing of jobs.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski said support for investing in California will be a threshold question for candidates and elected officials seeking working families’ support in 2012.
Yes, California has taken more than its share of hits in this economy, but we can rebuild an economy of broadly shared prosperity the same way our grandparents created it: by investing in infrastructure that gives our businesses a competitive edge. We can come roaring back by investing in universities that are incubators of innovation and schools that train workers to make products invented in California right here in California. And when workers, not just CEOs, have good jobs, Californians will be working their way into the middle class, not falling out of it.
The 6-point “Invest in California” plan includes:
1) Infrastructure: It’s time to invest in repairing and retrofitting the infrastructure that made California great. $9 billion in bonds already sold can, and should, be put to work in shovel-ready projects. By investing public pension funds in infrastructure projects and construction of high-speed rail, we will create jobs and improve California’s competitiveness.
2) Manufacturing: If we invent big ideas in California, we should manufacture them here – that’s why we support helping businesses to manufacture products they invent here. Our plan would speed up businesses’ ability to create jobs without weakening worker protections or environmental standards.
3) Education: California needs the most educated and skilled workforce in the world to compete in the global economy, but budget cuts have put California school funding behind Mississippi, Alabama, China and Korea. We need to restore $18 billion to K-12, community colleges and higher education, and expand and create new campuses to improve access.
4) Revenue: It’s time to raise the necessary revenue to fund education, public safety and other essential services by revamping our tax code so it’s fair. Our plan would put special carve-outs for corporations to the jobs test: no new net jobs, no more tax breaks. When corporations ship their jobs overseas, their tax breaks should disappear.
5) Clean Energy: Our plan would create a clean and green revolving loan fund to help manufacturers to meet AB 32 requirements and create good jobs. By using good union labor to retrofit public buildings and schools, we can capture cost savings using high quality standards.
6) Ending Income Inequality: Economic recovery starts when workers have enough money in their pockets to buy products made in California. Our plan requires companies that receive state contracts, grants, or tax breaks to pay living wages with health benefits, and preserves project labor agreements that build our communities with living wages.
Read the complete “Invest in California” plan at www.californialabor.org/jobs.
Rejecting the notion that the state’s deficit prevents investment in our future, AFSCME Senior Assistant Director Willie Pelote called for an end to corporate tax giveaways, like enterprise zone credits, that are bleeding the state of billions that could support good jobs:
To the voices of doom and decline who claim we can’t afford to invest in our future, we say: when 93% of the income gains over the last decade have gone to just 1% of the population, it’s clear the problem isn’t that California is broke, it’s that our system is broken.
Bob Balgenorth, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, also weighed in on the need for investment:
When it comes to a strong economy and the quality of life we want for families, we’re all in this together, whether or not we carry a union card in our pocket. Workers who build our roads succeed when we invest in our infrastructure, and so do the private sector businesses who transport goods on them. Businesses thrive — and create more jobs – when teachers and firefighters have dollars to spend. Our state isn’t short on work ethic, we’re just short on work.
Over the next few months, we will be building support for the plan with events in communities around the state, and will seek to enact the elements of the plan through legislative advocacy and at the ballot box.