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Prop 39 Could Create Over 11,000 Construction Jobs Annually, Save School System $230 Million

December 11, 2012
Contact: Matthew Lewis


California Voter-Approved Proposition 39 Could Create Over 11,000 Construction Jobs Annually, Save School System $230 Million Per Year and

Improve Student Performance


New Study from The Center for the Next Generation Makes Case for School Retrofits as State Legislature Considers How to Direct New Funds


San Francisco, CA – California’s students, workers, and communities could reap huge benefits from a new, voter-approved initiative that closes a business-related tax loophole.  Proposition 39, approved 60-40 by California voters on November 6, could provide these benefits by funding energy efficiency upgrades in thousands of California schools over the next five years, according to a new analysis released today by The Center for the Next Generation, a non-partisan think tank (to view the full analysis, visit: ).

Proposition 39, which garnered more than 7 million votes in the November election, directs $550 million each year for energy efficiency retrofits and clean energy projects for California public schools and other public buildings. The proposition language left implementation to the state legislature, which is beginning the process of deciding where these funds should be directed.  The new analysis, Proposition 39: Investing in California’s Future, examines what would happen if the legislature directed the bulk of the funds toward public schools.

“Many of California’s schools waste money every day because they aren’t energy efficient,” said Kate Gordon, Director of the Advanced Energy and Sustainability Program at Next Generation. “Applying Proposition 39 funds to improve energy efficiency in public schools will save money that can be reinvested in things that directly benefit students. It’s a win-win-win for the state.”

Gordon, who led the analysis for Next Generation, noted that by focusing the revenues from Prop 39 on schools, the state legislature would be continuing the state’s tradition of enacting best-in-class energy and environmental programs that save Californians money, lower carbon emissions, and improve quality of life for the state’s residents.

In addition to the financial savings, efficiency retrofits can help improve the safety and comfort of California’s aging public school infrastructure by providing a healthier learning environment for both students and staff. The improvements could also provide thousands of jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, which together compose most of the energy efficiency industry.


Key Findings from the report include:


  • California’s 10,569 public schools spend about $700 million per year on energy, which is as much as they spend on all books and supplies.
  • Retrofitting California’s public schools would save at least 30 percent in energy costs per school – a total of $230 million across the entire California system.
  • Each school retrofit project creates approximately 20 jobs per $1 million of investment. Investing $550 million per year in school retrofits would result in 11,000 jobs annually.
  • Retrofitting school ventilation systems, a standard component of efficiency retrofits, can improve indoor air quality in the state’s oldest classrooms, and in the portable classrooms that have been shown to contain toxic levels of some chemicals.   


“Students in well-designed and properly maintained school facilities consistently perform better than their peers in sub-standard facilities, even when controlling for socio-economic status,” said Ann O’Leary, Director of the Children and Families Program at Next Generation.  “Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism today, resulting in $30 million in lost revenues to schools. The efficiency improvements won’t just save California money – they’ll make our kids healthier and give them a better environment for learning.”

Proposition 39 closed a $1 billion out-of-state corporate tax loophole that proponents said put California businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Closing the loophole is expected to generate over $1 billion in revenue for the state. For the first five years, Prop 39 will dedicate half of these revenues recovered to energy efficiency and clean energy programs; the state legislature will determine how these revenues are spent. The other half of the revenues will go to the California general fund.  After the first five years, 100 percent of the revenues will be directed to the General Fund to help close the state’s budget gap.

To review the entire white paper, visit .  To schedule an interview, please contact Matthew Lewis, at 415-689-5749.


The Center for the Next Generation works to shape national dialogue around two major challenges that affect the prospects of America's Next Generation -- advancing a sustainable energy future and improving opportunities for children and families. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center generates strategies that advance these goals through research, policy development and strategic communications. In our home state of California, the Center works to create ground-tested solutions that demonstrate success to the rest of the nation.


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