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Prop 39 will close tax loophole, raise funds for renewable energy

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Proposition 39, which passed on Election Day, will tax out-of-state businesses and earmark those new billions of dollars for clean energy programs. To learn more about how it will work, KALW's Ben Trefny spoke with Paul Rogers, environmental writer for the San Jose Mercury News and managing editor for KQED’s science programs. Rogers explained how Prop 39 came about, how it will change the state, and how the money will be applied.

PAUL ROGERS: This was a measure by San Francisco financier Tom Steyer which closed a loophole in the way that corporations pay taxes in California. It will now generate a billion dollars per year in new revenue –and for the first five years going forward, half of that money, actually a little more than half, $550 million a year, has to go to fund renewable energy projects. So we're looking at a tidal wave of money, $2.74 billion over the next five years, in new funds that's going to come in to do projects in California on renewable energy. Most of that is going to be things like retrofitting schools, community colleges, universities, putting better insulation in, solar panels on the roof, new windows. And that kind of thing is going to generate jobs. That's why a lot of unions supported this measure, but it's also going to lower the electricity bills at a lot of schools and universities, probably by up to a third when this stuff is put in. And that money, in turn they're going to be able to spend back on education.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.

Ben handles daily operations in the news department, overseeing the editorial and sound engineering teams, delivering daily newscasts, producing the nightly news and culture show Crosscurrents, and supervising special projects including KALW's Audio Academy training program.