Leaders from across California are debating the future of enterprise zones today.
The debate centers on a restructuring plan Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled in May as part of his budget proposal.
His plan would take $750 million from enterprise zones and redirect it into programs that provide a statewide sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment; a hiring credit; and a job retention effort.
Brown’s idea is now before lawmakers, although they don’t have to come to an agreement before the Saturday deadline to pass a budget.
In an effort to drum up support for it, Brown’s office today released a “call for action” in conjunction with a list of stakeholders.
“California’s thirty-year-old Enterprise Zone program is not enterprising, it’s wasteful. It’s inefficient and not giving taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck,” Brown said in today’s statement.
“There’s a better way and it will help encourage manufacturing in California.”
His comments aren’t likely to be taken well in the Coachella Valley, home to one of 42 such zones across California.
Local leaders almost unanimously agree that the program – which offers employers hiring credits and other incentives if they expand or bring in new businesses – has been beneficial to the desert economy.
The Palm Springs Black Chamber of Commerce, along with the chambers in Coachella and Indio, are among those voicing such support by joining a coalition called Californians for Improving Enterprise, Employment and the Economy.
“The program has been effective at helping millions of Californians who live in economically depressed regions as well as minorities, veterans, displaced workers, recipients of government aid, and others in need of jobs, creating more than 25,000 new jobs and protecting another 115,000 for Californians last year alone,” the group announced in a statement today.
Brown tried two years ago to eliminate enterprise zones, which have been around since 1984.
The local zone, which runs along Interstate 10, includes the communities of Coachella, Mecca, Indio, Thermal and Thousand Palms.