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Posts Tagged ‘corporate savings’

Assemblyman Don Wagner Strongly Supports Keeping Enterprise Zones

Monday, March 14th, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


Today, Assemblyman Don Wagner came out in favor of maintaining the Enterprise Zone program – and he doesn’t have on in his district.

By repealing the tax credits that fuel enterprise zones, California’s many employers who took the state at its word, located and grew their businesses in such zones, and have helped improve some of our struggling communities will instead find their tax bills climbing dramatically. This will leave them with less in their budgets for payroll, benefits, capital improvements and hiring.

At a time when California has the nation’s second highest unemployment rate, we will see more people collecting unemployment insurance rather than paying taxes. Additionally, businesses that set up shop in enterprise zones, will suffer from decreased productivity or have to shut down, thereby further reducing state and local revenues.

Read the full article.

Another Perspective on EZs

Monday, February 28th, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


Matthew Mahood of the Sacramento Metro Chamber sheds some important light on the EZ debate, particularly as cast by Dan Morain.  Mahood, a member of the business development community, points out three important points:

1.  The number of the qualifying employees is small compared to the total employee workforce and employers only receive the credit for qualified employees;

2.  Surrounding states are aggressively courting California companies, evidenced by the large numbers of companies that have left the state.  Even if the critique is true that “major” corprations get tax credits, these corporations are also “major” employers who pay the lion’s share of the corporate taxes; and

3.     California needs more business incentives not less.  The ones we have work.

Read the full article here.

Governor Brown Has Ways to Make You NOT Talk

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Legislation, Tax News


California’s budget problems dominate today’s political arena.   Without question, the biggest systemic problem draining the budget is one that most politicians are afraid to even approach.  Of course it’s the pension system.  No one seems willing to call out the patent iniquity in the public versus private workforce.  Jerry Brown on Friday did his part to quell the opposition to true pension reform by removing someone who championed for reform.

Gov. Jerry Brown has removed a California State Teachers’ Retirement System board appointee who helped author a controversial study that criticized the state’s largest public pension funds.

Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, appointed Cameron Percyto the CalSTRS board on Dec. 30. As a graduate student at Stanford, Percy was part of a team that wrote, “Going For Broke: Reforming California’s Public Employee Pension Systems. “Schwarzenegger often referenced the report’s highly disputed claim that California’s Big Three pension systems — including CalSTRS — faced a collective $500 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Brown’s spokesman said coldly: “These appointees served at the pleasure of the governor and their services were no longer required.”  Read the full story here.

When Brown took over, there was some hope that given the slim chance of a second term, Brown would make the tough decisions and try to change the systemic problems facing California.  Instead, he’s using the Unions to fund the ballot initiative and hasn’t touched them in his proposed budget while at the same time trying to eliminate the Enterprise Program which is proven to stimulate job creation.  By wedding himself to the Unions early on, he’s tainted his ability to make it seem as if his proposed budget is anything other than the usual pandering to the union lobbyists.  It’s unfortunate for Brown’s legacy and for California, it may be very costly as well especially if the unions are able to drive business out of the state by eliminating the Enterprise Zone Program.

Memorandum to Jerry Brown and the Unions

Friday, February 18th, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Legislation, Tax News


No, it’s not the events in Wisconsin (although that should serve as a wake up call).  Rather it’s the legal memo detailing why repeal of the EZ is illegal.  Essentially, repeal of the EZ violates the Contracts and Due Process clause of the California and U.S. Constitutions.  The memo’s conclusions are that repeal:

  • Constitutes “bait and switch” taxation
  • Violates the U.S. and state Constitutions
  • Would subject the state to refund claims that nullify the proposed budget savings
  • Invites legal action to enjoin repeal
  • Subjects local governments to taxpayer lawsuits; and
  • Endangers California’s bond rating which could be downgraded

The memo is well researched and convincing.  I hope Brown’s camp is enjoying reading it as well.

Enterprise Zone Attracts New Jobs In LA

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


In a press conference yesterday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed financial software provider BlackLine Systems to the City of Los Angeles.

As part of its relocation, BlackLine will receive the benefits of the ‘State Enterprise Zone Program’ and the ‘Business Tax Holiday’ which entitles the company to a rate discount from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, hiring tax credits and a 3-year exemption from the gross receipts tax, respectively.

“Blackline Systems’ move to Los Angeles highlights the larger trend of businesses moving to our city to take advantage of our competitive business policies such as the State Enterprise Zone Program and the Business Tax Holiday,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.

Read the full arrticle.

Why Monday’s Subcommittee Hearing Was a Resounding Victory for the Enterprise Zone Program

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


Ever since Governor Brown proposed to eliminate the Enterprise Zone program, everyone seems to be focused on the “data” behind the program in an effort to determine the program’s value and future.  At yesterday’s Budget Subcommittee hearing, the same two reports squared off:  Professor Swenson and his USC report versus Jed Kolko and his PPIC report.

On the same day, the California Budget Project released what it claims is a new report with new data and concludes that the EZ program should be cut.  The conclusion, of course, is not surprising.  However, I did review the footnotes to see on what the CBP based its finding.  Over half of the footnotes that reference any sort of underlying data come either from the PPIC report or the CBP’s own prior report.  Now it may seem benign, but if quoting oneself can be deemed research, then Don King deserves to be king.  The CBP quotes its own report, its own research and its own findings as grounds for its new findings. 

The CBP also criticizes the program because the tax credits go to large corporations.  I’m not sure how to make the obvious point more obvious:  who do these companies hire?  I would be so bold as to say that they hire employees.  I would also repeat what Chris Micheli said:  the only way these corporations get the credit is if they hire someone who qualifies, e.g. veterans, disabled, unemployed or those who live in impoverished areas.  You only get the credit if you hire the type of people who deserve to get these jobs.  Keep in mind that a zone is designated by taking an impoverished residential community and designating the commercial area around it in order to help those residents find work.  The CBP report seems to ignore these fundamental aspects of the analysis.    

For its part, the PPIC report contains a fatal flaw that was exposed at yesterday’s hearing.  The PPIC report is based on Dun & Bradstreet data which is compiled by asking companies how many employees they have.  Kolko used this data noting the change in employment over time and concluded that there was no positive effect on employment in EZs.  However, as Professor Swenson pointed out, D&B asks employers to check a box declaring how many employees they have.  An employer can check the “1-5 employees” box if they have three employees.  If they hire two more employees, they will still check the “1-5 employees” box and hence one could conclude (and report to the legislature) that the EZ program has no positive effect on employment.  Kolko had no meaningful response to this criticism other than to say that the data searches are repeated millions of times and thus account for any margin of error (assuming I heard him right).  Dr. Swenson responded that repeating a data error two million times only confounds, not corrects the error.

Given the dueling reports, Swenson’s USC report has to be considered the more reliable of the two.  Regardless, there were two events that ruled the day at yesterday’s hearing both of which came after the academics cleared the mike.

1.  An attorney who seemed to have come prepared for this specific issue testified that the proposal to eliminate the credit carryover was indeed illegal, violating the Due Process clause and the Contracts clause of the Constitution.  He affirmed that there will be legal challenge to this part of the Governor’s proposal.  Importantly, the effect of this is to significantly reduce the amount Brown claims there is to be gained by eliminating the EZ program.  If the carryover credits cannot be legally eliminated, then the cost of the legal challenge, the uncertainty of resolution and the likely ultimate defeat of the proposal effectively eliminate any putative gains from cutting the program.  As Chris Micheli pointed out, there is also a wage add-back that taxpayers will certainly ask to be refunded if the carryover credits are eliminated.  Taxpayers pay for the credits when claimed on a current year return by adding the credits to income and thus paying more taxes in exchange for claiming the full amount of the credits and having the excess available for subsequent years.  Again, there is very little net gain even if the Governor gets his way.

2.  Statistics and econometrics models aside, the taxpayers ruled the day with their own testimony.  Cries to preserve the EZ program came from two divergent sectors that rarely coincide when it comes to public policy:  the business world and minority groups.  They were joined by representatives from small and large cities, chambers and individuals.   Everyone (except for Lenny Goldberg who said the same thing he says every year) echoed their support and reliance on the EZ program as a means to stay competitive, not against neighboring cities, but against neighboring states.  As one businessman put it, he’s getting calls weekly from other states with promises of tax breaks if he leaves California.  Many said that if the EZ program is cut, they will take other states up on their offer.  My favorite line of the night came from a businessman who said that he located in California and hired many employees because of the EZ program.  He emphasized that it would be unfair, unjust and unwise to cut the program and then concluded by telling the Committee that he gave his business card to the attorney who testified that there will be a legal challenge if the program is cut.

It was powerful hearing and a strong testament to the fact the California can only be competitive by keeping, if not expanding the EZ to lure and maintain businesses. The result would be to reduce unemployment, increase revenue and send a strong signal to businesses and other states that California is reversing its anti-business sentiment and commencing on a long term path to prosperity and independence.  One legislator (I think it was Manuel Perez) testified that Illinois enacted huge tax gains but left its Enterprise Zone program intact.   In fact, many Republican and Democratic legislators questioned why in the face of such unemployment figures would California further damage its ability to create jobs.  The representatives from the LAO could only look to the PPIC study and repeat what they were told to repeat, i.e. that we must make tough choices and the PPIC says that the program is not effective.  This is after they acknowledged that the data was outdated and that cutting the program would likely result in legal challenges.   Craig Johnson, on the other hand, stood firmly and declared to the Committee that CAEZ has the current data which proves conclusively that the EZ program creates jobs.  Professor Swenson added that on average, a qualified EZ employee costs the state roughly $5,000, whereas the cost to the state of paying unemployment benefits to the same employee if he or she can’t find work is over $20,000.  For myriad reasons, the EZ program benefits from such widespread support from minority and business leaders and the legislators on both sides of the aisle who represent these divergent groups as was evident at yesterday’s hearing.

EZ Success By The Numbers

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


The attached Fact Sheet highlights how many jobs have been created by the EZ program.  These are numbers that seem to be missing from the debate and certainly from the PPIC analysis.  For example, the EZ program put into the workforce 18,317 Californians who were previously on public assistance.

“Preserve Enterprise Zones,” Says Economic Development Corp President

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


Here’s what Bill Allen had to say today about the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the EZ program:

If anything, the Governor should strengthen his commitment to the Enterprise Zone Program in these difficult economic times as a key mechanism to revitalize economically-challenged areas by providing incentives that create high-wage jobs and investment in these communities. By responsibly doing so, he would not only strengthen local economies, but strengthen the state’s long-term economic foundation as well.

Too many of our state and local residents desperately need jobs. Until such time when this is no longer the case, there will always be a critical role for Enterprise Zones. This is one program our elected officials cannot afford to eliminate.

Read the entire Fox & Hounds editorial here.

Assemblyman Manuel Perez to Propose EZ Reform

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


Trying to beat the Governor to the punch, Assemblyman Perez intends to propose legislation aimed at making the EZ program more accountable and efficient.  Read the entire Tribune Weekly Chronicle article.

Texas Using Its Enterprise Zone To Lure California Businesses To Texas

Monday, January 3rd, 2011 | Enterprise Zones, Tax News


Texas is “open for business” and using its Enterprise Zone to lure California businesses looking to relocate.  Is Jerry Brown listening?

With shovel ready sites situated in an enterprise zone the Levelland Economic Development Corporation sees the new Levelland Industrial Rail Park as the key to developing a diversified local economy.  By paring this new rail infrastructure with the local skilled workforce and integrating ourselves into the wind energy logistic supply chain, Levelland can take advantage of the expanding renewable energy industry exploding throughout the region.  Levelland also offers opportunities to California businesses considering relocation or expansion by helping reduce the normal stress related with such capital intensive projects.  Our exceptional economic environment, warm weather, famous hospitality and affordable cost of living make Levelland an ideal choice for businesses looking to make a move. Texas Governor Rick Perry says, “Texas Wide Open for Business” and Levelland is a great place to enter the Lone Star State. 

Read it here.

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