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Schwarzenegger proposes tax credits to boost state economy

CHULA VISTA _ Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced a $500 million job package in Chula Vista last week as he reiterated the importance of producing “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

In an attempt to stimulate California without federal assistance, Schwarzenegger said he plans to present to the State Legislature the package of five bills to “create or retain at least 100,000 jobs.”

“We need help for the hardworking people,” he said Friday. “The most important thing is jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Accompanied by various San Diego County leaders, Schwarzenegger introduced his ideas to revamp the California economy, which he also discussed in his January State of the State address.

His five proposals include: providing training and hiring incentives for businesses; streamlining regulations that would create jobs; eliminating sales tax on green technology manufacturing equipment; eliminating the challenge of lawsuits on certain projects; and, extending the 2009 California Tax Credit.

If Schwarzenegger’s proposals are passed by the Legislature and signed into law, another $200 million would be invested in the tax credit system that would give $10,000 grants to Californians purchasing homes.

“We need to get people to buy new homes, so we can build new homes and the great thing is when we give tax incentives to homebuyers it has a rippling effect,” Schwarzenegger said.

He said the rippling effect includes builders hiring, people finding jobs, and employees spending and so on.

Additionally, employers would be given a $3,000 reimbursement for hiring unemployed Californians, and qualify for reimbursement for the cost of training programs. There is up to 140,000 job seekers would qualify for new training programs.

Jeanie Leighton, who purchased a home in Chula Vista in May, said she was one of the few recipients of the $100 million pot allocated to California homebuyers in 2009. Although she won’t receive her $10,000 until she files her taxes, she said it was “icing on the cake.”

“It didn’t help me that much because I would have purchased a home regardless of the tax credit,” Leighton said. “But I know it was a key factor for some of my neighbors who are young families and wanted to buy a home.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shakes the hand of California Building Industry Association chairman John Young as Assemblymember Marty Block (D-San Diego) looks on. Schwarzenegger visited Chula Vista Friday to introduce his $500 million proposal to stimulate the economy.

What could be the most controversial proposal presented by Schwarzenegger is the inability for a legal challenge on certain projects. Should his package of bills be adopted, California’s Business, Housing, and Transportation Agency would have “the right to select a specified number of projects that have completed environmental impact reviews and deem those projects as approved and not subject to legal challenge.”

Schwarzenegger said that many state projects have seen a halt or a detrimental detour because of “frivolous” lawsuits hitting builders, despite a successful completion of environmental reports. And, his goal is to eliminate the time wasted.

“When you’re speeding up the project it doesn’t mean you’re circumventing the environmental process,” he said. “It just means after the environmental process is done, we have all the studies to move forward and build rather than hold it up with lawsuits because a lot of those lawsuits are just frivolous lawsuits.”

He went on to say federal stimulus dollars that the state could qualify for but isn’t, is because of the halt on infrastructure.
Assemblymember Marty Block (D-San Diego), who attended the press conference, said Schwarzenegger’s plan is the same as the plan to create the California State University campus in Chula Vista.

Block’s bill AB 24 which was vetoed by the governor, would have mandated the CSU system to research the possibility of another county campus.

“I strongly support the governor’s attempt for the creation of jobs,” he said. “But the project of a new CSU campus would also create jobs… it goes hand in hand.”

Block said he didn’t think the move was hypocritical of the governor but sees 2010 as a year for Schwarzenegger “to do a better job.”

California is facing a budget deficit estimated at $20 billion though President Barack Obama proposed to offer the state $2.1 billion in aid.

Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network. Follow her on Twitter or add her on Facebook.