When presented with evidence of California's unemployment rate, second highest in the nation, and the ongoing exodus of manufacturing jobs to other states, California's Democrats generally dismiss such talk as hearsay and note that "green jobs" will provide the panacea to the state's fiscal ills.
Gov. Jerry Brown has called green jobs "the key to our economic future." When he was running for governor, he wrote as part of his jobs-plan proposal, "Investments in clean energy produce two to three times as many jobs per dollar as gas, oil or coal. And dollars invested in clean energy tend to stay in California, instead of going to other states or other countries."
That's a great talking point, especially during an election. But it's becoming clear that even green jobs are headed for states with more favorable business climates.
A Sacramento-area news station, ABC News 10, recently explained that "green businesses have joined the exodus of California companies leaving the state or expanding only outside state borders." The station's online news article focused on SMA America, a solar-panel manufacturing plant based in a Sacramento suburb that never seriously considered building its new manufacturing plant in California because of the difficulties in doing business here, even though it would have preferred to build a plant near its headquarters. It instead created 700 new jobs in Colorado.
This is a repeatedly told story. Assemblyman Dan Logue, a Republican from north of Sacramento, told ABC that green companies can't compete in California because so much of the green industry centers on manufacturing. The state's pollution-control rules, anti-global-warming restrictions, litigious climate and inflexible labor and other regulations makes California one of the most difficult states to create jobs. It's not just the high costs, but the attitudes among regulators, who seem to view business like a plague.
And as the Solyndra scandal makes clear, subsidies to hand-picked, politically well-connected green companies cannot overcome market forces. Green industries might keep a headquarters here, but the manufacturing and job creation is going elsewhere.
It's time for the governor and his Democratic allies to face up to the problem and ask themselves why even the green-jobs industry is growing elsewhere.