Why Union Members Should Support Proposition 39

When you boil it down, Proposition 39 is actually easy to understand. The ballot measure would simply close a tax loophole that incentivizes California companies to create jobs elsewhere. The money saved would help balance California’s budget, and it would be invested in clean energy and energy efficiency projects that will create good jobs.

Every Californian will benefit from this proposition. Construction workers will see good jobs retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and expanding clean energy infrastructure. Consumers will realize savings from declining energy demand. Investors will have the opportunity to participate in new energy innovation. And all Californians will share in the environmental benefits and reduced carbon emissions that cause climate change.

While the effect of Proposition 39 is easy to understand, the circumstances that led us to this point are quite a bit more complex. The tax loophole that Prop 39 will close stems from late-night budget negotiations in 2009, when a deal was struck that would allow out-of-state companies that do business in California to avoid state taxes by moving jobs and investments elsewhere. Other states, including New York, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin have already closed similar loopholes. In essence, California is giving a tax break to companies that do business in the state to NOT hire California workers.

That’s wrong.

Fixing this problem also creates a major opportunity for the state to create good jobs, reduce the budget deficit and improve schools. First, by removing the incentive to create jobs out of state, California stands to bring tens of thousands of jobs back to California. In addition, over $500 million annually of revenue for the next five years from this loophole will go to create good jobs making California buildings more energy efficient and spurring growth in clean energy. Between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs will be created in these clean economy investments, mostly for the hard-hit construction industry.

California’s workers have had a tough few years, and though unemployment dropped 0.4 percent in September and the state added 262,000 jobs over the past year, the construction sector has lagged behind, with a national unemployment average of 11.9 percent. The jobs that will be created by Proposition 39 will be a huge benefit to workers in this sector, getting them off the bench and back onto the jobsite.

Another benefit to union members is that the state will be able to fund important public sector services, like schools, and police and fire protection. In addition to creating clean energy jobs, Proposition 39 will also raise $500 million a year to help California balance its budget, retaining services and the people who provide them.

On November 6, union members will have a number of important ballot choices.. Proposition 32 — the effort by billionaires to silence the voice of working people in politics — has gotten much attention and deserves to be rejected by union members and non-union members alike. Vote no on 32.

But please remember to vote yes on Proposition 39 to support your fellow workers around the state. Closing the loophole will stop jobs from being shipped out-of-state and bring back some that have left. It will also help balance the budget, ensure that essential services are protected, and create jobs building a cleaner, more energy-efficient future that will benefit all of us for generations to come. Vote yes on Proposition 39.