Cut Government-Funded Pollution
New Report Exposes $23 Billion In Wasteful California Programs that Harm Environment
Below is a news announcement from Green Watchdog.
A coalition of twenty taxpayer, environmental, and consumer organizations called on California Governor Gray Davis to support reforms to cut pork barrel programs, protect the environment, and preserve the state's budget surplus. In a letter sent today, the groups asked the Governor to adopt the recommendations of a new report, Green Watchdog, that identifies fourteen specific programs that cost California taxpayers billions of dollars and desecrate the state's environment. The Governor will submit a revision of his budget in the next few weeks.
The recommendations outlined in the Green Watchdog report -- released today -- include eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies, stopping wasteful water projects, and canceling gold-plated new highways. The report's fourteen reforms would save over $4 billion annually.
In the letter, the coalition, which includes the California Tax Reform Association, Friends of the Earth, CALPIRG, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and sixteen other organizations asked the Governor to save the surplus by creating a more environmentally responsible budget and urged him to "lead the way in implementing these important reforms when you submit your May revise to the legislature later this month."
The Governor's revised budget proposal will require tough choices that the state has not faced in several years, as budget surpluses have grown. This year, close to half of the state's projected surplus, approximately $5 billion, has been lost to the state's energy crisis. In addition, the economy has slowed, further shrinking the surplus, even as the Governor and the state legislature have identified numerous spending priorities, such as education and transportation.
"Californians deserve better than a tired, old budget that squanders money on polluters," said David Madland, editor of the report for Friends of the Earth. "Governor Davis should support the Green Watchdog reforms in his new budget proposal to help save tax dollars and protect California's environment."
"We repeatedly hear that because of the economic slow down and the energy crisis, California is strapped for cash, jeopardizing important programs," said CALPIRG's Teri Olle. "But really, California wastes billions of taxpayer dollars every year on programs that benefit a few special interests at the expense of the public's best interests and the environment."
Green Watchdog marks the first time the national Green Scissors campaign, which has successfully cut over $24 billion in wasteful environmentally harmful spending programs, has targeted California's budget.
"We've already blown half the surplus lining the pockets of Texas energy executives, let's not waste the rest of the surplus subsidizing California polluters," said Green Capitol's Doug Linney.
"Our tax system often gives the wrong incentives to polluters," said Lenny Goldberg, executive director, of the California Tax Reform Association. "We need to realign our tax policy to protect the environment."
The fourteen Green Watchdog recommendations include:
The projects included in Green Watchdog highlight principles that will help create a more environmentally responsible budget. These budget principles include: stopping boondoggles, preventing pork barrel spending, ensuring a fair return from public assets, eliminating counterproductive policies, and making polluters pay.
- Charging an oil severance tax or royalty.
- Preventing bond funds from being used on the Cadiz groundwater storage project in the Mojave Desert.
- Canceling the special privilege franchise agreement for State Route 125 South Tollway in San Diego.
- Ensuring that power plants pay taxes based upon their full assessed value.
- Auctioning air pollution permits in Los Angeles.
The entire report is available at http://www.ecoventure.org/greencapitol/pdf/Watchdog.pdf
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