By Autumn Bernstein, ClimatePlan Director. October 1, 2012.
Yesterday was the last day for Governor Brown to sign or veto bills this year. Today, it’s clear that the Governor is holding the line on cap and trade – and not letting cities off the hook for redevelopment.
Cap and trade revenue bills signed
California’s cap and trade program received a boost with the passage of AB 1532 and SB 535. These bills broadly define how the revenues generated by cap and trade – starting at $1 billion annually and growing to as much as $11 billion over time – will be allocated. AB 1532 establishes general criteria for how funds should be spent and outlines a participatory process for developing an expenditure plan. SB 535 sets aside a portion of revenues for projects in disadvantaged communities.
Prior versions of AB 1532 contained much more specific language directing how the funds should be spent. However this language was stripped at the 11th hour, leaving only general references to categories of spending such as “sustainable infrastructure.”
The signing of these cap and trade bills represents a huge opportunity for advancing sustainable communities. However, there’s a lot of work ahead to ensure that the final revenue plan invests in projects that reduce GHGs while improving public health, advancing social equity and conserving natural resources.
There’s nothing Sacramento loves more than a good old-fashioned money wrassle, and because the final version of AB 1532 is so broad, we expect a showdown over the final cap and trade expenditure plan. A first draft of the plan will be submitted to the Legislature in May 2013.
The Governor also signed the following bills:
– Bike lane enthusiasts are celebrating the Governor’s signature on AB 2245, a bill that would exempt new bike lanes from CEQA review, as long as those lanes are within urban areas and are consistent with an adopted bicycle master plan.
– Healthy communities achieved a win with Governor Brown’s signature on AB 441, which promotes health and equity at the regional level by requiring the California Transportation Commission to attach to its RTP guidelines a summary of successful policies, programs, projects that MPOs have used to support health and equity.
Governor vetoes bills to reinvent redevelopment
The Governor vetoed a host of bills aimed at giving cities new tools to replace the functions of redevelopment agencies, which were dissolved earlier this year. Among the casualties was SB 1156, which would have authorized local governments to create “Sustainable Community Investment Areas” around transit. AB 2144 would have authorized the creation of infrastructure finance districts with 55% voter approval. SB 214 would have eliminated the voter requirement for infrastructure finance districts altogether.
In nearly-identical veto messages for all of these bills, Governor Brown stated these efforts were “premature” and would cause cities to focus on these new tools instead of winding down redevelopment to help fill the hole in the General Fund. With the new information released on Friday showing that the state is saving far less money than expected from the dissolution of redevelopment, Governor Brown is sending a strong message that he’s not done squeezing blood from this turnip.
Hope glimmers in his veto message for SB 1156, which states that he wants to take a “constructive look at implementing this type of program” once the winding down of redevelopment is complete. That’s small consolation for cities, affordable housing developers, and TOD advocates that are still reeling from the loss of redevelopment. We suspect many of these bill concepts will reappear next session, where a huge batch of freshman legislators will have a steep learning curve on this complex issue. Will the Governor be ready for his ‘constructive look’ by then? Time will tell.
The Governor’s actions shed light on what to expect in the 2013 legislative session. Redevelopment will continue to demand attention, and the cap and trade revenue expenditure plan will be a priority as well. And as if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also got Senator Steinberg’s pledge to tackle a comprehensive CEQA update. Taken together, these complex issues go to the very heart of how we plan, fund, and build California’s future.