California no longer should give specific tax incentives to businesses and instead should provide broad-based tax relief, the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said in a new report.
The analyst's office examined California Competes, a program that began four years ago to give tax credits to businesses looking to move to the state or remain here, and found it puts existing companies that don't receive the awards at a disadvantage without clear benefits to the overall economy.
"Picking winners and losers inevitably leads to problems. In the case of California Competes, we are struck by how awarding benefits to a select group of businesses harms their competitors in California," the report said. "We also think the resources consumed by the program are not as focused as they should be on winning economic development competitions with other states to attract major employers that sell to customers around the country and the world."
Electric-car maker Tesla has reached an agreement to set up its own manufacturing facility in Shanghai, according to people briefed on the plan, a move that could help it gain traction in China's fast-growing market for electric vehicles.
The deal with Shanghai's government will allow the Silicon Valley auto maker to build a wholly owned factory in the city's free-trade zone, these people said. This arrangement, the first of its kind for a foreign auto maker, could enable Tesla to slash production costs, but it would still likely incur China's 25% import tariff.
California lawmakers have proposed more taxes and fees in the first half of the 2017-18 legislative session than in all of 2015 or 2016. If each proposal became law, the tax burden in California would increase by more than $373 billion per year. To put this in context, all revenue in the 2017-18 State Budget is expected to bring in $178.4 billion.
One of the few great inescapable facts in the field of economics is the reality of the business cycle. No matter how high-flying an economy might appear, another recession is coming sooner or later. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to regularly predict when one might occur, or how severe it may be, but recessions and their place in the business cycle are an accepted fact of economic life. Therefore, preparing for recessions is an equally inescapable concept.
It has been more than eight years since the end of the last recession, the third longest period of expansion in U.S. history, and many are rightfully beginning to look ahead to the next economic downturn. However, one of the most effective ways to look forward is to look back and make sure that we have adequately learned the lessons of the Great Recession. Nowhere is this type of postmortem more appropriate than for state and local governments.
When California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a 10-year extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program this summer, it was heralded as a rebuke of President Trump, who had just announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. While the nation was failing on climate change, the story went, states could succeed. The trouble is that California could leak—like a sieve.
In the decade since Mr. Brown’s predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, first signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, the cap-and-trade program has done little to abate carbon emissions, let alone planetary warming. Under the law, companies in California that emit carbon in their production processes must secure scarce permits for the right to do so. The theory is that this creates an incentive to invest in green power and energy efficiency.
Yet the law’s designers still have not confronted the central conundrum of trying to impose a state or regional climate policy: As firms compete for a limited supply of carbon permits, they are put at a disadvantage to out-of-state rivals. Production flees the state, taking jobs and tax revenues with it. Emissions “leak” outside California’s cap to other jurisdictions.