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Brown's Budget Reflects Need to Invest in School Energy Efficiency

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The Center for the Next Generation applauds the energy and climate change components of Governor Brown’s budget. The budget offers hundreds of millions of dollars for energy efficiency upgrades in California’s aging school buildings, and offers a roadmap for the wise allocation of revenues from California’s groundbreaking law to address climate change.

Governor Brown on Proposition 39: Efficiency for our Schools, Health for our Students

The Brown budget recognizes the critical need to use voter-approved Proposition 39 funds to modernize K-12 schools and bring them up to best-in-class efficiency standards.  As detailed in our recent white paper, “Proposition 39: Investing in California’s Future,” California’s school system – the largest in the country – has over 10,000 schools, 70 percent of which are over 25 years old.  These schools, especially those in disadvantaged districts, are in critical need of energy efficiency upgrades that will reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint, and bring them in line with California’s overarching energy goals.

The Governor’s proposed budget would commit all revenue raised by Prop 39 into the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund, to be invested in school energy efficiency upgrades:  $400.5 million to public K-12 schools and $49.5 million to the California Community College System, for a total of $450 million in 2013-14. For each of the following four years, $550 million will be allocated into the fund. These funds are badly-needed, and represent a smart investment that will return dividends in the future.

Key facts on California public K-12 infrastructure:

  • California’s K-12 schools spend at least $700 million on energy expenses each year—more than they spend on books and school supplies combined.
  • 30% of California’s classrooms are now in “portable” or modular buildings, nearly all of which were shown in a 2004 ARB/DHS report to have unsafe levels of airborne toxins and irritants including mold and dust, as well as known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, lead, and arsenic.
  • According to the U.S. EPA, the average school retrofit reduces energy costs by approximately 30%.
  • Over 80% of average school energy consumption is used for heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting systems—systems that directly affect student and staff health and academic performance.

Governor Brown on AB32: A Framework for Carbon Reductions

Also of significance, the Governor’s Proposed Budget lays out a framework for the forthcoming three-year investment plan for cap and trade auction revenue, as required under AB 1532 (Perez), signed into law last year. While specific details of this spending plan are not yet available, the Budget broadly defines the areas that will be targeted for spending in the first three-year plan:

  • Transportation
    • Mass transit, high speed rail, electrification of heavy duty and light duty vehicles
  • Commercial and Residential Electricity Consumption

    • Property‑Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program
  • Water Infrastructure

    • Programs that reduce the energy used in the supply, conveyance and treatment of water
  • Sustainable Agriculture

    • Reference to bioenergy
  • Forest management and urban forestry

  • Waste Management and Diversion

    • Composting and waste-to-energy

The Governor’s budget also makes clear that AB 32 revenue will be spent in compliance with SB 535 (de León), also signed into law last year, which requires that a minimum of 10% of revenue proceeds be spent within the most disadvantaged communities. At the Center for the Next Generation, we will be monitoring this requirement and the forthcoming investment plan closely, as well as conducting research and formulating policy recommendations to ensure that disadvantaged communities and school districts are prioritized in new revenue allocation.


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