The event brought approximately 200 city officials from throughout California to the state Capitol for legislative briefings and meetings with legislators. League First Vice President and San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros facilitated the morning and afternoon briefings that were held in the Sacramento Convention Center.
Cisneros welcomed the League members by thanking them for their service and for investing time to travel to Sacramento to advocate on behalf of their city as well as all the cities of California. He noted that Legislative Action Day is about building and maintaining relationships and exchanging information with legislators. The League’s officers met in the afternoon with Assembly Speaker John Pérez as well as other legislative leadership.
He urged the assembled city officials to carry two key messages in their meetings. “Cities are ready to move forward. We need to restore tools to help revitalize communities, help create new good paying jobs and build affordable housing for our residents. Legislators can also help by ‘doing no harm.’ Bills that create mandates, contain punitive proposals, attempt to redirect local revenues or diminish local authority only make it more difficult for cities to fulfill our responsibilities to our residents.”
League Executive Director Chris McKenzie gave an overview of the day’s events before introducing League Legislative Director Dan Carrigg and League Fiscal Policy Advisor Michael Coleman. Carrigg and Coleman provided a state budget and legislative update. Both noted that the state budget for FY 2013–14 is projected to be balanced with a small surplus for the first time in recent years. Coleman stressed to the audience that although the budget may be balanced, the future is not without risk. He also reported that the Proposition 1A loan from FY 2010 is scheduled to be repaid by June 13 with 2 percent interest and reminded the audience that most cities securitized the loan when it was initially made.
Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) joined the assembled city officials and started by welcoming them to Sacramento. A former member of the San Rafael City Council, Assembly Member Levine has made local government a priority of his legislative service. “What motivated me to run? Certainly my council experience in San Rafael,” said Levine. Upon assuming office in December, the former California Civic Leadership Institute alumnus requested placement on the Assembly Local Government Committee and was appointed vice chair.
The city officials in the audience were pleased to hear Assembly Member Levine’s approach to legislation. He wants to insure that the Assembly Local Government Committee reviews legislation by considering the unintended consequences for local government. Assembly Member Levine stressed the nonpartisan nature of local government and promised to remember his roots. “We have to be fierce advocates for our cities,” said Levine close to the end of his remarks. “It’s a pleasure to serve and look out for our (local) issues.”
The morning session concluded with a presentation on Enterprise Zones led by Kirstin Kolpitcke, the League’s land use and housing lobbyist, and Yolanda Benson of the California Enterprise Zone Association. The two discussed the critical role the program plays in California’s economy at the local and state levels. California’s 42 Enterprise Zones employed more than 118,000 people in 10,000 companies in 2010. Benson also shared with the audience an important statistic from the Franchise Tax Board: Small businesses comprise 94 percent of businesses that use the Enterprise Zone credits and make claims using the Enterprise Zone criteria.
City officials scheduled meetings in the Capitol in the early afternoon with their legislators and then came back together for a special bipartisan panel on efforts to promote job creation, economic development and other issues. Moderated by League First Vice President José Cisneros, the event was co-sponsored by the League’s Latino Caucus. The panel featured Assembly Member Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and Assembly Member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas). Assembly Member Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) was unable to attend due to conflicts in her schedule.
A former member of the Pasadena City Council, Assembly Member Holden told the group that it was great to be back among local government officials. He spoke about the Enterprise Zone program and the importance it plays in his city, his region and the state. The Assembly Member finished his remarks by stressing his commitment to local control.
Assembly Member Alejo, a former city official from Watsonville, noted to the city officials that local government is the best preparation for being in the Legislature. Very concerned about the threat to the Enterprise Zone program, Assembly Member Alejo said, “These are tools designed to help the neediest areas of the state and now they’re under attack.”
The fact sheets
from Legislative Action Day are available on the League website. Click on the “materials” tab to view each fact sheet.