Friday, July 22, 2011

New California Law May Force Employers to Pay for Workers' Commutes

We realize this list is starting to get really long, but chalk this one up on your list of "Reasons Why Businesses Leave California:" the Contra Costa Times reports that Jerry Brown is now poised to sign a bill that will force businesses throughout the state to subsidize workers' commutes if they use public transit, carpools, or bicycling.

The bill, SB 582, comes to us courtesy of San Francisco Senator Leland Yee, and works like this: regional transportation and air quality authorities will now be able to pass ordinances requiring employers to offer workers at least one commuter subsidy. Work in San Francisco and take the Caltrain, Muni, or BART to work? Now your employer might offer to designate some of your pretax pay toward your monthly passes, if the Bay Area Air Quality Management District requires them to do so. Carpool to work in LA? Now your employer might offer to chip in on your gas via monthly payments, because the MTA mandates a subsidy. Companies with as few as 20 people could be affected. Unsurprisingly, the bill did not consider the cost to employers.

In the twisted logic that prevails in Sacramento, this is obviously a winning proposition for everyone: fewer cars on the road, and evil corporate fatcats picking up the tab. Of course, we'd tend to believe that the costs of these subsidies will ultimately translate into lower wages and/or higher prices for products. And, of course, it's just one more reason to not do business in California.

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