Negotiations over the California state budget are producing dueling proposals on how best to spend revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program.
While Governor Jerry Brown continues to call for a third of the cap-and-trade funds to go to CA high-speed rail, Senate President ProTem Darrell Steinberg last week expanded upon his alternative proposal to spend a larger share of the revenue on affordable housing and transit at the local and regional level.
State cap-and-trade funds are collected under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, A.B. 32. The law provides a way for companies to meet a state-mandated cap on greenhouse gas emissions by buying “pollution credits” produced when others exceed emissions reductions. Estimates vary on how much revenue the program will generate, but it could produce billions each year between now and 2020.
Standing in front of an active construction site for new housing units near Oakland’s MacArthur BART station last Thursday, Steinberg called for permanent sources of funding for affordable housing, mass transit, and sustainable communities development. The Senator argued that California is facing a “catastrophic funding crisis” as affordable housing bonds run out, and noted that the transportation sector is the state’s biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“Californians are logging more vehicle miles annually than ever before,” Steinberg said.
Behind him, a forklift raised a load of lumber high up in the air, with an attached sign reading, “At least 972 lbs of CO2 emissions reduced every day.” That’s the amount by which the housing project, which will provide 624 housing units next to the BART station, is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to other housing developments. Of those apartments, 108 will be leased at below-market rates.