For sake of jobs, delay A.B. 32

San Bernadino County Sun Editorial

If the polls are right, California voters are having trouble deciding how to vote on Proposition 23.

We believe it, because this measure divided our editorial board more evenly than any other in the Nov. 2 election. Our board’s own close balloting resulted in our decision to support Proposition 23.

This measure’s appeal is that it could save a million jobs, according to proponents, and they probably are right. It also would save millions of dollars in energy costs, with little environmental harm and with almost no effect on global warming.

Proposition 23 would block Assembly Bill 32, which is California’s global-warming law, until unemployment falls to 5.5 percent for a full year. (Since unemployment has been that low for that long only three times in the last 40 years, the suspension of A.B. 32 could last a long time.)

California already has a reputation as the worst state in the Union for business friendliness, and A.B. 32 will make it worse because it will drive up costs. Most members of our editorial board think there’s no way our state’s unemployment rate will get close to 5.5percent again until state government greatly reduces the regulations – environmental and otherwise – it places on businesses. Only then will businesses open or relocate here in substantial numbers.

On balance, the green jobs that A.B. 32 would encourage won’t make up for the traditional jobs lost if it goes into effect, our board decided.

That’s why, according to recent polls, more than 40 percent of voters say they will vote yes on Proposition 23.

Roughly the same percentage are opposed to 23, which leaves at least 15 percent undecided. It’s hard to say what the undecided will think when they finally get around to reading the ballot arguments.

It’s not surprising that out-of-state oil companies are among the biggest contributors to the campaign for Proposition 23. The state intends to finance emissions cutbacks with fees on fossil fuels, which of course will get passed along to consumers.

That doesn’t make the measure more appealing to voters. Neither does the idea of encouraging more greenhouse gases, even if California’s emissions are a small part of the worldwide issue. Some of us feel that apart from the issue of global warming, it will be healthier and eventually more efficient to get our energy from the sun, the winds or the tides.

How tough is this issue? Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, says she’ll vote against Proposition 23, but if elected she will suspend the costly provisions of A.B. 32 until the economy improves.

Californians should vote yes on Proposition 23 on the Nov. 2 ballot.

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