Friday, August 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Calif. politicians joust over how to spend cap-and-trade cash

walters column sig

By
From page A11 | April 30, 2014 |

We humans crave free money – which explains why we buy so many lottery tickets despite infinitesimal chances of winning. Politicians are no different.

Free money?

There is, of course, no such thing, but politicians consider money borrowed via bonds, federal aid and money from fees “free” because they can spend funds as they wish without directly tapping constituents’ wallets. So it means free of voter backlash.

California may – or may not – be generating a big pot of free political money via the “cap-and-trade” fees extracted from business to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. There’s a political fight brewing on how to spend it.

The Air Resources Board is auctioning off emission credits and has received several hundred million dollars, a few of which have been spent.

It’s very uncertain, however, what lies ahead – whether the tens of billions of dollars that some envision will materialize, whether some of the proposed uses, such as financing a bullet train system, are legal, or whether the fees themselves will pass legal muster.

The California Chamber of Commerce and other business interests contend in a lawsuit that the auction system was imposed by the Air Resources Board without explicit legislative permission and therefore is an illegal tax.

The plaintiffs lost an initial round in Superior Court, but the case is on appeal with the outcome very uncertain.

It centers on a decades-long dispute, which the state Supreme Court has only partially clarified, over the legal difference between a fee and a tax.

If the system survives the legal test, it’s still uncertain how much money it will produce. The Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, tabs the range at $12 billion to $45 billion between 2012 and 2020, the target date for reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget would spend $850 million, with his financially troubled bullet train receiving $250 million, plus a guaranteed one-third of future revenues.

Taylor has opined that it may be illegal to spend fees on the bullet train because it would not meet the law’s emission reduction mandate. Environmentalists who like the cap-and-trade system are leery of that commitment as well, preferring direct spending on greenhouse gas reduction.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, meanwhile, has unveiled his own fee proposal that provides markedly less for the bullet train and emphasizes two of his personal priorities, low-income housing and commuter transit, although housing may have even less nexus to greenhouse gases than the bullet train.

So politicians see it as free money for pet projects and programs, while business sees it as an onerous tax – and no one knows whether it will even materialize.

That’s the way California makes public policy.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

‘Boyhood’ mature on music, moments

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Mr. Clean: Dennis Regan offers friendly jokes, with a bite

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Gemstones shine at Solano County Fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta: ‘The Who’s Tommy’ third play in three months

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Japan Summerfest returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Solano Tea Party Patriots schedule meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 7 Comments

 
Highway 12 to close overnight in Jameson Canyon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Air district calls Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Vallejo police arrest suspect in shooting death

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Stabbing victim dies in Vacaville

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

A look at the impact of Wisconsin’s union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Union: California prison staff told to fake checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

As US job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Dow plunges as multiple worries vex investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Report: Secrecy enveloped Bay Bridge construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Yosemite wildfire weakened, evacuations to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Californians to see increase in health plan costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
CIA spied on Senate, internal review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

 
NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
To err is human – but not in print

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Why do so many Americans support Hamas

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 16 Comments

 
Nice guy becomes House majority leader

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Should union organizing be a civil right?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11, 11 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for Aug. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My irregular monthly cycles were a symptom of cancer, not menopause

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for Aug. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Aug. 1-7, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘Godfather of Makeup’ Dick Smith dead at 92

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Starz’ ‘Outlander’ brings novels to life vibrantly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Dionne Warwick knows her way to San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
‘Sharknado 2′ whipped up storm of viewers, tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Chekwa taking reps with Raiders while Hayden sits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Expos fall short in 10-9 loss to Leghorns

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
A’s deal Tommy Milone to Twins for Sam Fuld

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Ravens’ Rice: His actions ‘totally inexcusable’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Commonwealth Games athlete convicted for assault on rival

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Nick Watney leads PGA Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Rich get richer: Rays’ Price traded to Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Dumdumaya takes third in World Junior/Junior Olympic tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

AP Source: Trump advances in Bills sale process

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Mudcats get 15-7 win in Auburn Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Derrick Brooks set standard for NFL linebackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Iliad of France makes surprise bid for T-Mobile US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
In San Francisco real estate, $1M won’t buy much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Facebook’s Internet.org expands in Zambia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Debit overdraft fees often exceed cost of purchase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ending partnership

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9