Special Reports

Big Businesses Use State Tax Fund to Train Their Own Staff

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 12 2013 - 1:11pm

Some subsidies, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, are awarded to multinational corporations valued in the billions

State subsidies for vocational training might provide a windfall to large corporations already able to offer similar instruction, if a planned expansion of a program funded through a tax on all businesses in California moves forward. State officials say they aim the vocational training funding at big businesses in key industries that are in danger of relocating to other states. But while tens of thousands of smaller companies pay into the program via the Employment Training Tax, it is hard for most to qualify for grants. Many do not even know the program exists.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories.

Employers Scramble to Claim New Tax Breaks After State Kills ‘Wasteful’ Enterprise Zones

Miguel Sola Torá, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 2 2013 - 6:08pm

Among the companies benefiting were two Sacramento strip clubs and some of the nation’s largest corporations, including Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, FedEx, Starbucks and Wells Fargo

Large businesses in California “enterprise zones” reaped billions of dollars in tax breaks in recent years, but tax privacy laws made it impossible to tell whether the program actually encouraged companies to hire new workers in economically disadvantaged parts of the state. So the Legislature overhauled the $750 million program — but instead of killing it outrightstate put aside an equivalent amount for an even more elaborate array of tax credits. San Francisco officials said that a local, parallel tax break program will continue.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories.

Twitter, Other Tech Companies Get S.F. Tax Breaks but Show Little Progress Hiring in Neighborhood

Yoona Ha, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 11 2013 - 1:51pm

The largest of the firms settling in mid-Market signed extensive community agreements, but critics call them toothless

Last year, 14 San Francisco technology companies received $1.9 million in tax breaks for setting up shop in the mid-Market Street area. Supporters said it was a good investment, bringing economic development and jobs to an economically depressed strip in the core of the city. The zone is certainly coming back to life, and the companies that benefited now employ more than 2,700 workers. But it is less clear that the deal resulted in entry-level jobs for residents of the hardscrabble neighborhood — one of the goals most sought by skeptics of the tax break. The largest six of the companies promised a list of community benefits that included an effort to identify qualified job seekers in the Tenderloin and mid-Market area. But the agreements are vaguely worded, the companies have been slow to report their progress to the city, and most were unresponsive to direct questions about employment practices.

This story is part of a special report on workforce development in the San Francisco Public Press fall print edition.

Plans to Relax California Climate Regulations Upset Some Environmentalists

Barbara Grady and Lisa Weinzimer, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 31 2013 - 12:38pm

California regulators are weighing plans to make it easier and less expensive for oil refineries and other big industries to comply with the state’s new cap-and-trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and environmentalists are alarmed. At a hearing last week in Sacramento, the California Air Resources Board heard staff proposals to amend the year-old cap-and-trade program to extend “transition assistance” to industry through 2018. The change, coming on the heels of lobbying from industry, would give businesses possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free allowances to pollute, and alter the economics of the emerging auction market for carbon.

HELP WANTED: City Hall Focuses on Hot Job Sectors, but Struggles to Track Workforce Training Budget

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 8 2013 - 4:00pm

Behind the ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ mantra — Auditor says S.F.’s fractured workforce development system needs new strategy

Six years ago, San Francisco politicians called for better coordination of job training and placement services across the city. A new report reveals that since then, spending has more than doubled while control and evaluation of the sprawling system remain as elusive as ever.

At least 14 local agencies now independently operate an array of workforce development initiatives at an estimated combined cost of $70 million, the city’s budget and legislative analyst found. Without a common citywide strategy, no one has been able to measure accurately how many or what kinds of jobs are being filled, or how much is spent to prepare unemployed San Franciscans for new careers.

Mayor Ed Lee, whose approach to workforce development has focused on meeting the labor needs of some of the fastest-growing local industries, has ordered his own review this fall to map out all employment programs across the city.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories in the package.

Less Than Expected: Minimum Wage Violations in San Francisco (Video)

Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Aug 7 2013 - 11:44am

Mauricio Lozano, a Salvadoran immigrant, was paid below minimum wage to work at a North Beach pizzeria. With the help of local nonprofit organization, Young Workers United, and the San Francisco City Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, Lozano won his case, recovering his rightfully earned wages.

Many Residents in the Dark About California Carbon Cap-and-Trade, Survey Finds

Lisa Weinzimer, San Francisco Public Press — Aug 6 2013 - 1:45pm

A majority of California residents have never heard about the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions from industry, a survey from the Public Policy Institute of California shows. While 54 percent of state residents sampled had heard nothing about the new multibillion-dollar carbon market, 33 percent had heard a little and 12 percent a lot, the survey, which was released July 31, found.

California Carbon Trading Would Counteract Emissions From Expanded Chevron Refinery, State Says

Anna Vignet, San Francisco Public Press — Aug 5 2013 - 4:30pm

The hundreds of activists on hand Saturday at Chevron’s Richmond refinery to protest its contribution to global warming might be surprised to learn that California says it has found a way to control the company’s carbon footprint within the state, despite its plans to expand. 

What Does Approval of Plan Bay Area Mean for Region?

San Francisco Public Press — Jul 22 2013 - 3:14pm

The controversial Plan Bay Area was given the green light by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Friday. The regional transportation and housing plan is meant to cut greenhouse gas emissions while allowing for more housing growth.  San Francisco Public Press reporter Angela Hart appeared  on KQED's Forum to discuss the plan.

Make Money, Save the Planet Board Game

Anna Vignet, San Francisco Public Press — Jul 17 2013 - 11:08am

Update 8/2/13: Listen to Public Press editor Michael Stoll and illustrator Anna Vignet interviewed on KALW-FM about how to design a board game to teach people how California’s cap-and-trade program works.

Is it possible to maximize your individual profits while reducing overall pollution? That’s the billion-dollar game California has now started. The goal for California industries is to work collectively to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. They do this by trading “allowances” to emit carbon — and hopefully making a profit along the way. This game board is part of a special report on climate change in the Summer print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Syndicate content