Voters plugged into green.
Voters plugged into green.

Proposition 39 Election Results: Big Win for Green Renovation of Public Buildings Paid for by $1 Billion Business Tax

Shortly after midnight, victorious Proposition 39 was approaching landslide status, with 59.2 percent Yes votes, and thousands of construction workers were a bit closer to getting some of their jobs back in California.

The measure will raise $1 billion per year, half for the general fund and half for "energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects" in government buildings and the schools. The California Legislative Analyst's Office estimates some 40,000 jobs could be created -- that's if Gov. Jerry Brown keeps a tight hand on this feel-good state program -- the kind that has the potential to reel out of control with lax building upgrades and overpaid work.

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The money for green projects from Prop. 39 will last only five years, then all of Proposition 39's taxes flow permanently to the general fund, which is controlled by the California State Legislature.

The annual $1 billion in new revenue will come from multi-state businesses who, under the new law, will be required to figure their taxes based on the percentage of their sales in California. It closes a tax loophole approved by the state legislature in 2009 that gave those kinds of businesses a break -- and many huge corporations fought like dogs to prevent the legislature from undoing that 2009 deal.

Now, the voters have undone the deal for the 120 legislators who wouldn't.


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