RELEASE: Sens. De León, Steinberg Announce SB 39 with Prop 39 Co-Chair Tom Steyer to Advance Jobs, Schools & our Environment

December 04, 2012
SB 39 Introduction

SACRAMENTO – Working to advance California, Proposition 39 Campaign Co-Chair Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Bill 39, the Clean Energy Employment and Student Advancement Act of 2013 at a press conference along with joint-author Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). Campaign co-chair Tom Steyer voiced his support for SB 39 along with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Mayor Kevin Johnson.

“Senate Bill 39 establishes the framework for giving voters what they asked for – by a 20 point margin: jobs and greater energy savings,” said Senator De León. “I look forward to holding hearings to seek input from stakeholders and to getting this bill passed so we can get Californians to work, save energy and improve conditions for our schoolchildren.”

It is currently estimated that the initiative will help generate thousands of jobs, with many of them in the construction trades, which experienced significant job losses in the last several years. Unemployment in some construction trades is as high as 40%.

“California voters are trusting us to make sure that we use the money that will be coming back to the public from closing the loophole in real, tangible and accountable ways that will contribute to the California comeback,” said Tom Steyer. “And we will make good on the public trust by focusing the money on retrofitting California's public schools, which will create badly needed jobs, promote the health of our children and allow for the savings of taxpayer dollars from reduced energy costs that can in turn be plowed back into classrooms to educate our kids."

SB39 Co-author Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said, “This is great for California schools and great for our economy. This could be one of the biggest job creators we’ve seen in quite a while.”

Representing the growing coalition backing SB 39 were Sara Flocks, California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO; Cesar Diaz, State Building and Construction Trades Council; Dave Low, California School Employees Association; Lauren Faber, Environmental Defense Fund; Mary Luévano, Global Green USA; Victoria Rome, Natural Resources Defense Council; Mary Leslie, Los Angeles Business Council; and Carol Kocivar, California State PTA.

SB 39 will award energy efficiency upgrade grants to the most economically disadvantaged school communities in need of modernization to create long-term cost savings for schools, maximize job creation, direct more money to classroom needs, shrink our carbon footprint and create healthier environments for students and staff.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, its energy bill is approximately $105 million per year. By retrofitting schools in the district, it is estimated the energy savings could be around 25%, generating an additional $28 million that could be put back in classrooms that have been especially hard hit by cuts in recent years.

In January and February, Senator De Leon will hold Senate Select Committee on Energy Efficiency hearings around California to seek input on how best to proceed and get Californians back to work, save energy and improve conditions for our schoolchildren as soon as possible. The Hearings will be held at schools in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento. Specific dates and times are still to be determined.

The Center for the Next Generation, a non-partisan think tank, will be releasing a white paper on Thursday that will provide a foundation for SB 39 implementation. Preliminary findings from the paper include:

·         California’s school system is the largest in the country.  One in every 8 students in the K-12 system nationwide goes to school in California.

·         Our 10,569 public schools spend about $700 million per year on energy, which is as much as they spend on all books and supplies.

·         73 percent of CA schools are more than 25 years old.

·         Retrofitting California’s public schools would save at least 30 percent in energy costs per school – that’s $230 million across the entire California system.

·         Every school retrofit project creates approximately 20 jobs per million dollars of investment, many of these jobs in our hard-hit construction sector.  Investing $550 million per year from Proposition 39 would result in 11,000 jobs associated with the retrofit projects, and would free up resources for schools to retain or add teachers and staff as well.

·         Retrofitting school ventilation systems also improves indoor air quality, which increases student performance by providing a healthy learning environment for our kids.  Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism today, resulting in $30 million in lost revenues to schools.  Investing in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which make up more than 65 percent of all school energy costs, will save energy dollars and keep kids healthy and learning.

Proposition 39 closed a $1 billion tax loophole, created in a last-minute, closed-door budget deal in 2009 that gives out-of-state corporations an unfair tax advantage over businesses that employ more Californians. Closing this loophole restores fairness to California’s corporate tax system.

For the first five years, Prop 39 will dedicate half of the revenues recovered to job-creating energy efficiency and clean energy programs implemented by legislation. The other half of the revenues, an anticipated 500 million dollars a year will go to our schools – helping stem devastating classroom cuts across the state. After five years, all of the revenues will go directly to the General Fund, a permanent investment in our state’s future.

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