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GOP candidate Kashkari proposes tax breaks

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm •  Published: March 25, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A 10-year corporate tax credit for companies that move to California and create more than 100 new jobs, diverting nearly $10 billion in high-speed rail bond money to water storage projects and promoting fracking for oil and natural gas are among the policy proposals released Tuesday by Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

The proposals read like a wish list of proposals Republican lawmakers in the state Legislature have pushed over the last decade. Democrats hold large majorities in both houses and the governorship, making political compromises on GOP priorities difficult or even unnecessary.

Kashkari, the former U.S. Treasury official who oversaw the bank bailout at the height of the financial crisis, has said he would rely on that experience to overcome longstanding political divisions in the state capital. He noted that Troubled Asset Relief Program had bipartisan support in Congress and spanned Republican and Democratic presidential administrations.

But ideas such as reforming the California Environmental Quality Act, a complex maze of regulations that businesses and developers say stymies growth, have strong opposition and lobbying interests that have blocked most efforts to change it, including some by Democrats. Gov. Jerry Brown sought a CEQA overhaul last year but settled instead for legislation that tinkered with elements of the law.

"Neel will champion CEQA reform that ends abusive lawsuits and provides process certainty to all, not just well-connected interests that are able to win the special favor of the governor and powerful legislators," his jobs proposals says.

Kashkari said the environmental law is hurting California's ability to tap billions in revenue-generating oil and natural gas, a practice he would like to see expanded through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Brown, a Democrat, has largely supported the practice in California's Central Valley oil region and signed legislation last year to establish the state's first rules on disclosure and permitting for fracking.

Environmentalists have been unhappy with Brown's refusal to place a moratorium on the practice and have dogged him at public events, including trying to shout him down during his address earlier this month at the Democratic Party's state convention in Los Angeles.

Dan Newman, a spokesman for the governor, referred to the plan as "political rhetoric."

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