Intersections: A monthly go-to for reliable facts and analysis about California's debt, investments and economy

State Treasurer�s Office Boards, Commissions and Authorities Foster California Economic Development

By Treasurer John Chiang

As the state�s banker, I oversee almost $70 billion in investments of state and local government money.

I am also responsible for the sale and refunding of tax exempt and taxable bonds that pay for construction and upkeep of roads, bridges, parks, schools, hospitals, water projects and other vital public works.

I have yet a third important function: serving as a key state economic development officer.

I chair more than a dozen boards, commissions and authorities that provide billions of dollars in annual funding to small and large businesses, hospitals, schools, universities and other public and private sector entities. The infusion of capital creates jobs and opportunities for thousands of workers, from taco truck cooks to automotive engineers.

One of my programs, the California Capital Access Program, or CalCAP, encourages banks and other financial institutions to make loans to small businesses that have difficulty obtaining financing. Since its inception in 1994, CalCAP lenders have loaned more than $2.2 billion.

CalCAP is run by the California Pollution Control Financing Authority. One of the program�s recipients, Sacramento restaurateur Kate Chomko, expanded the kitchen at her �Downtown and Vine� wine bar with $150,000 in CalCAP�secured bank financing.

�I just felt that if we had a full kitchen, it would make all the difference in the world,� said Chomko. �The program allowed me to follow my dream.�

But that is not all the help available. CalCAP also provides loan repayment insurance for lenders making loans to owners of heavy-duty trucks to retrofit them to be less polluting. The assistance, done jointly with the California Air Resources Board, has improved air quality and the health of residents in heavily impacted areas throughout California, particularly in the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and areas near major international seaports.

Juan Moore, who operates two trucks out of Covina, credits CalCAP�s assistance and its low-interest loan with allowing him to make his vehicles compliant with tough environmental standards.

In all, about 10,000 diesel trucks have been cleaned up since 2009.

Meanwhile, another treasury-related agency, the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), last year provided $100 million worth of sales tax exclusions to companies involved in high-tech manufacturing, recycling and non-polluting energy.

Recipients included manufacturers of electric cars, rockets and satellites as well as environmentally beneficial recycling.

The $100 million was the maximum amount of benefits allowed by current law. As a consequence, this year I am asking legislators to expand the value of the available credits to as much as $350 million, so we can generate more high-paying, manufacturing jobs.

This same agency also helps fund energy efficiency property upgrades and issues tax-exempt bonds to finance a variety of environmentally beneficial projects. An example is Blue Line Transfer, Inc., a full service public disposal and recycling facility in South San Francisco. Blue Line Transfer took advantage of CAETFA�s programs to add an anaerobic digester.

From November 2010 to October 2014, the total estimated benefits from the Manufacturing Tax Credit Funds were projected to be $381 million, including $299 in fiscal benefits and $82 million in environmental benefits, such as greenhouse gas reductions.

These incentives help ensure that California is a center for precision manufacturing. The activity bolsters the economy and cleans the environment. It also helps small businesses grow and thrive.

Other authorities that I preside over at the State Treasurer�s Office finance a range of important facilities in all parts of the Golden State:

  • The California Health Facilities Financing Authority loans money from the sale of tax-exempt bonds to public and non-profit health care providers, such as hospitals and clinics.
  • The California Educational Facilities Authority issues revenue bonds to assist private, non-profit institutions of higher learning. Recent beneficiaries include Pepperdine University, the University of Redlands and Claremont Graduate University.
  • The California School Finance Authority assists charter school expenditures.

All these financing mechanisms spur economic growth and opportunity for many Californians.