California Money

By Christine Mai-Duc
December 18, 2015

The sweeping budget deal — a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill — tackles a number of policy areas, including making some $650 billion in tax breaks permanent, adopting new cybersecurity rules and repealing a decades-old ban on crude oil exports.

These types of year-end bills are loaded with spending in just about every area of government, and are sometimes referred to as “Christmas trees.”

So what’s in it for California?

More tax credits for solar and wind energy

The bill extends tax credits for wind and solar energy development by five years. This means big breaks for California businesses and individuals involved in producing or investing in renewables.

The state, which is a national leader in renewable energy, already has nearly eliminated coal from its power sources and in 2013 got nearly 20% of its energy from renewables like wind and solar. California will need to derive half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, according to a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this year.

In a letter urging her Democratic colleagues to support the spending measure, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said that while lifting the oil export ban is an “atrocious policy,” the wind and solar tax credits would “eliminate around 10 times more carbon pollution than the exports of oil will add.”

Big boost toward earthquake early-warning system

Vickie Katsubayashi looks at a red-tagged home near downtown Napa after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in August 2014. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Lawmakers included $8.2 million in funding for an early-warning system for earthquakes on the West Coast, a more than $3 million increase over last year.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) called the spending a “very substantial sum in these budget-constrained times.” Experts and researchers have said the system, once in place, could offer the critical minutes needed to slow trains, stop surgeries and take shelter before a major earthquake begins.

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