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Alice Khosravy: Double the spending, double the waste

Posted: July 19, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 19, 2013 2:00 a.m.

On July 11, Gov.Jerry Brown signed legislation that dismantled the state’s existing enterprise zone program and diverted the funds to a new program.

The program was originally established as a tax break for businesses in an effort to encourage employment growth in areas classified as depressed.

Under the old rules, businesses that existed within the zones could receive up to $36,000 over five years for hiring workers who were economically disadvantaged and made up to $12.

The new program allows businesses to receive up to $56,000 for up to 10 years, but only for those employees who make at least $12 an hour in limited targeted neighborhoods with a focus on manufacturing.

In a state with some of the worst employment prospects in the nation, Gov. Brown worked tirelessly to end the current program because, he said, "It is not enterprising — it’s wasteful."

I am all for cutting waste, aren’t you?

On June 30 the Wall Street Journal tackled the issue of the 28-year-old California Enterprise Zone topic and found that in 2010 the program cost was nearly $700 million.

How much of this should we, as taxpayers, expect to save? Is giving different companies nearly double the credit supposed to add up to savings?

It seems that if savings were the issue, we would just end the program. Diverting the funds to the new program suggests a different agenda than "savings,"

Instead of attempting to pick winners and losers in the marketplace at a time when employers are extremely sensitive to any rise in the cost of employing Californians, let’s cut waste.

Every politician says he or she is looking for waste, so here’s a thought: Try a search engine. Here are a few examples:

Losing high-speed rail bidders will get $2 million each. Only one of the five construction firms will be awarded the $1.8 billion high-speed rail contract for the first 30 miles of track. However, a recent report by the San Diego Union-Tribune uncovered that the remaining four companies will get paid $2 million each simply for submitting a bid.

Cal Fire hid millions of taxpayer dollars in a secret account. Following the discovery of nearly $54 million in hidden funds by the Parks Department, the Los Angeles Times reported another abuse of taxpayer money by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). The department set up an account with the California District Attorneys Association instead of depositing it into the general fund.

Some K-12 school districts literally steal kids’ lunch money. The Sacramento Bee highlighted that several K-12 school districts have been ordered to repay nearly $170 million in meal money because schools used lunch funds for sprinklers, roof projects and other "disallowed charges."

Taxpayers will pay $5.6 million so people can walk on the partially completed Bay Bridge. Californians will get a chance to walk on the newly completed section of the new Bay Bridge before it opens on Labor Day weekend.

Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to pay nearly $6 million to do so. A Contra Costa Times article examined the high cost of letting nearly 200,000 walk on the newly completed suspension bridge.

In-home care payments made to dead patients. According to the state Controller’s Office, poor oversight of the In-Home Supportive Services program resulted in $11 million being distributed to patients or providers of care who were deceased.

State e-waste recycling program losing tens of millions to fraud. According to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, the state’s e-waste recycling program has lost tens of millions of dollars due to fraud, the result of illegal material being smuggled in from out of state. The paper reported $23 million in fraudulently submitted claims that are yet to be paid and another $30 million in fraudulent claims that have been paid.

DMV fails to collect $22 million. The state Auditor’s office reported that the department did not collect $22 million in special license plate fees that it should have collected by law. The department also charged some vehicle owners the wrong amount, undercharging collectively by $10.2 million over a two-year period.

The California Taxpayers Association has identified more than $7.3 billion that state and local government could save or obtain from revenue enhancements by reforming existing programs.

It was broken down into $4.01 billion in annual savings and $104 million in one-time savings, as well as $3.19 billion in potential revenue enhancements.

Gov. Brown, which of these items can I expect to see you tackle next?

Alice Khosravy is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. "Right Here, Right Now" runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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