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010311_HA_brown_inaug_01.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's push to restructure an enterprise zone program of hiring tax credits that has been criticized as wasteful and ineffective passed Thursday with a 54-17 approval in the Assembly.

The lower house sent the Democratic governor Assembly Bill 93, which cleared the Senate late Tuesday night.

AB 93 targets an economic development program that Brown initially tried to kill in 2011. Lobbying has been intense over enterprise zones, supported by business groups and local communities.

Meant to stimulate job creation in areas of high poverty and unemployment, the enterprise zone program has been criticized for, among other things, giving tax breaks to strip clubs and allowing firms to claim tax credits for hiring decisions made years earlier.

AB 93 would overhaul the enterprise zone program and redirect about $750 million in business tax breaks.

The measure largely would retain the geographic boundaries of existing enterprise zones but significantly tighten and scale back hiring credits.

Hiring credits would be available only to employers paying at least 150 percent of the state's minimum wage. Temporary worker agencies, bars, retailers and restaurants would be excluded - with the exception of qualified small businesses.

New programs proposed by AB 93 include a sales tax exemption for manufacturing and bioresearch companies, and a program of tax credits next year negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the state - totaling up to $30 million next year and rising to $200 million in 2015-16.


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