EZ Throwdown!

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West Berkeley's Enterprize Zone (Credit: Berkeley's Office of Economic Development)

I've been reporting about the economic incentives cities use to keep employers close: cheap power, cheap parking, payroll tax breaks and the expansion of enterprise tax zones. Today, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters takes aim and fires at the zones, again.

Every time the state's economy takes a dip, politicians start chanting the "jobs" mantra, promising voters that they'll put more people to work, even though there's almost no evidence that anything the state does or can do has any appreciable effect on the economy.

The EZ program has been one of the more expensive of the state's many economic development programs, costing the state treasury about a half-billion dollars a year and thus contributing to its chronic budget deficits.

Last year, the Public Policy Institute of California, in an exhaustive study of EZs, declared that despite their cost, they generated "no statistically significant effect on employment."

Since the Sac Bee links only to itself, here's a direct link to last year's PPIC Study. Come to think of it, here's the Forum segment with author Jed Kolko speaking in detail.

I'd like to hear from those of you on the front lines.  Are you running a business or representing an area in an enterprise tax zone? Did you once? Are EZs essential?  Over-hyped and a waste of money and effort? Or occasionally useful in limited situations?

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About Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers politics, economics, technology, food and culture in a vast region extending from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. This follows more than seven years waking at 3 am to host the daily version of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state during NPR's Morning Edition. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, blogs for Bay Area Bites, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles. Follow @rachaelmyrow

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