Monday, January 11, 2010

NUMMI: A Bad Omen for the Governor's Jobs Package

Editor’s note: Originally posted on January 7, this entry has been changed to clarify an issue identified by one of my readers: Toyota has not been paid $2 million by ETP. However, it continues to pursue these funds from the state.

In his State of the State address, the governor made much of his proposal which would supposedly create new jobs this year. But, it is long on corporate handouts and short on job creation.

The governor’s proposal is to commit $500 million to the existing Employment Training Program (ETP). Unfortunately for California workers, this is yet another corporate giveaway that fails to guarantee a single new job.

The fiasco at the Toyota NUMMI plant is a prime example of why the governor’s proposal is so flawed. As we all know, Toyota is closing its New United Motor Vehicle Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, resulting in a loss of 20,000 jobs with thousands of other jobs and business indirectly impacted throughout California.

Despite these huge job losses, Toyota is seeking $2 million from ETP for the training it provided to NUMMI workers last year. Translation: NUMMI workers get pink slips while Toyota pursues a big public handout. This scenario is likely to repeat itself under the governor’s so-called jobs package.

The governor’s plan gives companies money to train or retrain workers. But firms can get reimbursed for providing as little as three months of employment. That’s not a job. That’s an internship.

The governor’s plan is further based on the faulty assumption that our high unemployment rate is due to a lack of skilled workers. In fact, California is full of experienced, highly trained, and employable workers looking for jobs. Our challenge right now is that no one is hiring. The governor’s proposal tries to solve the wrong problem.

The sad thing is, the administration is dragging its feet on implementing programs already in place that would create immediate jobs. The governor’s appointed watchdog for California’s use of federal stimulus dollars, Laura Chick, just issued a scathing report criticizing the administration for failing to distribute ARRA funds which would create jobs. We also need to get the administration to move on appropriating $3 billion in infrastructure bonds on approved projects would create jobs. This would be a good start, but we need to go further.

For every $1 billion of bond funds we spend, we get approximately 18,000 new jobs. That is why I am authoring legislation to address responsible management of our general fund debt and to use existing bond funds to create real, immediate jobs for Californians.