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Calif. lawmakers promising great incentives for Tesla plant

SONY DSCALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — California lawmakers and the governor’s office say they’re making a major effort to lure Tesla Motors’ $5 billion battery factory to the Golden State, according to the Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury News.

A bipartisan pair of state senators — Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin — have sponsored “urgency” legislation, expressing “intent to provide financial and regulatory incentives to expedite groundbreaking and construction of the plant in California.”

New Mexico is among five states competing for the plant.

The California bill, SB 1309, contains no details of what those incentives could be, but experts said they are likely to include tax credits, workforce training grants and streamlined permitting and environmental reviews.

“Everything is on the table …” Gaines said in a statement. “We need to show Tesla that we’ll cut through the knot of red tape that frustrates companies in this state and prove that California is open for business.”

“Whenever the state creates incentives for business, it should be for industries that not only bring good-paying, middle-class jobs but also use clean technology to help curb pollution and improve the health of Californians,” Steinberg said in a release. “We can hit both these targets of strengthening our economy and fighting climate change with the construction and operation of this manufacturing plant in California.”

“The proposed legislation is an extension of the administration’s efforts to encourage businesses to expand in California and demonstrates that the state is serious about finding creative solutions to spur job creation,” said Mike Rossi, senior adviser for jobs and business development in the governor’s office.

Tesla, which builds its luxury all-electric cars in Fremont east of San Francisco, plans to break ground on one battery plant as early as this month, CEO Elon Musk said. Start of construction on a possible second plant could begin a month or two later, he said.

Steinberg said he, Gaines and Gov. Jerry Brown want to send a strong message to Musk and Tesla that California wants their business.

“We are making our intentions crystal clear,” he said. “We have a strong commitment to do everything in our power to create good-paying jobs and to attract and retain clean industry.”

Musk said Tesla had been in talks with the governor’s staff and expressed concerns that permitting delays could prevent the factory from being built quickly.