Bay Area Council Blog: Economy Archive

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Council Announces Positions on Ballot Measures

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has taken positions on a number of statewide measures and one local measure appearing on the June and November ballots. The Council continues to analyze other initiatives that have been proposed for the November ballot. Thank you to all Bay Area Council members who participated in the survey

Measure B, San Jose Pension Reform (June 2012)

Summary: With the unsustainable cost of public pensions imperiling fiscal stability, Mayor Chuck Reed has crafted a bold measure that treats existing employees fairly and establishes prudent reforms to San Jose’s retirement system.  The outcome of this measure could have statewide implications. Making public retirement systems more fiscally sustainable is among the Council’s lead priorities.

Position:  Support

Proposition 28: Limits on Legislators’ Terms in Office (June 2012)

Summary: Reduces the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature to 12 years, but increases number of terms a person could serve in either the Assembly or Senate. This measure would allow legislators to develop the greater policy expertise to lead California.  This measure will enable legislators to better focus on developing sound public policies, instead of having to run for their next office.

Position: Support

Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Act (November 2012)

Qualified for the November ballot

Summary: This proposed measure would allow the state to borrow $11.1 billion to overhaul the state’s water system. The Bay Area Council participated significantly in the development of the compromise that led to this package and to it being placed on the ballot.

Position:  Support

Tax for Education and Early Childhood Programs (November 2012)

Circulating for November ballot qualification

Summary:  The proposed initiative is well-intentioned but does not include any reforms to address California’s structural budget problems and improve our low-performing education system. Major studies have consistently indicated that reform must accompany new investment. The measure would introduce an across-the-board 1 percent increase in state income tax rates for most Californians, expiring after 12 years and generating an estimated $10 billion earmarked for public school districts and early childhood development programs.

Position: Oppose

The Government Performance and Accountability Act (November 2012)

Circulating for November ballot qualification

Summary:  This proposal calls for sensible budgeting, accountability and governance reforms, by establishing two-year state budget cycle; prohibiting the Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified; permitting the Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act; requiring performance reviews of all state programs; and, requiring performance goals in state and local budgets, among other features.

Position: Support

jobscouncil

COUNCIL MEMBERS WEIGH IN ON PRESIDENT’S JOBS AGENDA

The White House this week sought input from Bay Area Council members on President Obama’s jobs and economic agenda. Don Graves, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Chair of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, led a discussion with top executives on the Bay Area’s take on job creation, remaining innovative and staying competitive. Among the executives attending, Marvell Technology Group Co-Founder Weili Dai encouraged the Administration to focus on supporting advanced technology manufacturing, an area that could be a comparative advantage for the U.S. The meeting was part of the Administration’s effort to elicit private sector views on national strategies for growth and job creation. Bay Area leaders covered issues including infrastructure investment, immigration, innovation and manufacturing.

caltrain

MORE PROGRESS ON CALTRAIN MODERNIZATION

Regional transportation officials are making progress in staking a claim for early investment by the California High Speed Rail Authority in electrifying the Caltrain commuter service between San Jose and San Francisco. The Council recently helped mobilize regional action to secure Rail Authority investment in parallel with similar efforts by Southern California transportation officials seeking funding to improve local transit systems in the Los Angeles basin that would ultimately connect to the bullet trains. A memorandum of understanding that outlines the region’s plans for electrifying Caltrain, which is among the Council’s top priorities, could be ready for approval in coming weeks. The Council is also partnering with Caltrain and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on a study of the economic value of electrifying Caltrain. To learn more about the Council’s efforts to modernize Caltrain, please contact Policy Vice President Michael Cunningham at (415) 946-8706 or mcunningham@bayareacouncil.org.

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NEW LIFE FOR PENSION REFORM THIS YEAR?

In a surprise move, state GOP leaders last week introduced a series of bills that mirror Governor Brown’s 12-point pension reform plan, which had been considered all but dead this year. This puts Democratic leaders in the Legislature in somewhat of an awkward spot, and they must now either oppose the bills or come up with meaningful reform ideas themselves.  There will clearly be many more acts in this play before it’s over, so don’t change channels.  With pension reform among the Council’s top priorities this year, President and CEO Jim Wunderman will be in Sacramento this week to meet with the Governor’s pension team and legislative leaders to discuss what happens next. To learn more about the Council’s pension reform work, contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at (415) 946-8710 or mregan@bayareacouncil.org.

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Council Partners on First-of-Its-Kind Website to Educate Businesses About Health Care Reform

The Bay Area Council joined with California’s leading business organizations today to launch the Health Law Guide for Business, a first-its-kind, business-oriented website (www.healthlawguideforbusiness.org) aimed at providing accurate and easy to understand information about the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in California. The guide is tailored specifically for the business community, will help business owners navigate through all 2,409 pages of the health care law with one simple website.

“The Health Law Guide for Business is a practical and fact driven website that houses the most current information regarding the new health care law.  It was created by California businesses for California businesses, it will be an important resource for those interested in the law’s business-specific provisions like colleagues, employees and the media,” said Dr. Micah Weinberg, senior policy advisor to the Bay Area Council. “Corporate leaders can use the Health Law Guide for Business to learn about the provisions in the law that will have the greatest impact on their bottom lines.”

The website, funded by The California Endowment, was created by a partnership that includes the Bay Area Council, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California Small Business Development Centers,  Pacific Business Group on Health, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Small Business Majority, Small Business California, and The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce to address the need of California’s business community to stay informed of the implementation of and to help address misinformation about the law.

With a law that includes as many levels of benefits, complexities and details as the health care law, it’s understandable that many California employers remain confused about what the law means to them and how it will impact their business. A report by Pacific Community Ventures, Health Care and Small Business: Understanding Health Care Decision Making in California, found that out of the 804 California small business employers surveyed, 43 percent said they are more likely to offer health insurance after learning of key benefits – like tax credits – made available by the health care law.

One of the most helpful features of the website is a “tax credit calculator” helps employer’s estimate savings available under the law. With videos, interactive surveys and an easy to use format, the online tool includes numerous elements to serve a variety of preferences for gathering and retaining information.

The Health Law Guide for Business website reflects the most significant updates and developments in the process to implement the health care law in California. In 2010, California became the first state in the nation to enact legislation creating an Affordable Insurance Exchange as required under the federal health care law. Starting in 2014, the California Health Benefit Exchange will allow individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs, and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs. The Exchange is separated into two separate programs, the Individual Exchange and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).  The SHOP will allow small businesses to band together to create a large purchasing pool so that small business owners will have access to the same lower rates that large employers have enjoyed for decades.

“Small businesses will discover that the most value from using the website will be a greater understanding of the changes in our health care system that have already gone into effect and allow them to plan for those that lie ahead,” said Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California. “Until 2014 when the California Health Benefit Exchange is fully functioning, the Health Law Guide for Business will allow them to access key updates, milestones, information on key benefits and news.”

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Improving Business Climate Tops Council’s 2012 Priorities

Revving up the Bay Area and state economies will lead the Bay Area Council’s top priorities for 2012, with specific focus on reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), creating a healthcare system that places a premium on controlling costs, and winning substantive reforms to our unsustainable public pension system. Those priorities are among five in which the Council will invest considerable time, energy and resources during the coming year. The Council will also focus on modernizing Caltrain, the outdated commuter rail service in the heart of the region’s biggest economic and jobs engine. In addition, the Council will expand its successful initiative to grow trade with China.

The priorities were finalized last week by the Council’s Executive Committee under the leadership of new Council Chair Janet Lamkin, who oversaw a comprehensive review of the Council’s priorities over the past several months. In establishing the priorities, the Executive Committee relied on staff research and analysis of various issues, member surveys, and a series of individual and group meetings.

Reforming CEQA. Despite some sector-specific dynamism, new research by the Council’s Economic Institute shows that the Bay Area economy essentially has been stuck in neutral for the past two decades.  Business leaders overwhelmingly point to burdensome regulations, including CEQA, workers’ compensation laws, and other red tape, as a main source of the problem.  The Council will produce empirical research to support what we know anecdotally.  We will build and lead a coalition of business groups and others in a major five-year effort to reduce the business regulations that have been stifling the Bay Area and California.  A key focus will be on stopping the continuing expansion of the California Environmental Quality Act and returning CEQA to its original scope and intent. To join us in reforming CEQA, please contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at (415) 946-8710 or mregan@bayareacouncil.org.

Controlling Healthcare Costs. The healthcare cost-escalation crisis continues, harming businesses and consumers alike and jeopardizing our global competitiveness.  The Affordable Care Act created a framework that can be used to ratchet down rising health care spending, via state-based implementation. The Bay Area Council will continue to lead the business community and other allies behind a strategic vision of an affordable, high-quality health care system for California.  We will implement that vision through legislation to be enacted in 2012 and 2013 that will prioritize market-based solutions and technological innovations for reducing healthcare costs and improving patient health outcomes. To join us in controlling healthcare costs, please contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg at mweinberg@bayareacouncil.org.

Reforming the Pension System. California’s unfunded pension and liabilities are estimated at $265 – $737 billion.  Add to that unfunded healthcare and pension liabilities at the county, city and special district level, and the numbers soar past the imagination.  In the short term and, especially in the long term, these liabilities mean much less money for services, education and infrastructure.  The Council will work with Governor Jerry Brown and proponents of a potential 2012 ballot measure to ensure that California reforms and manages public pensions in a fiscally stable manner. To join us in reforming pensions, please contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at (415) 946-8710 or mregan@bayareacouncil.org.

Modernizing Caltrain. Surveys of business leaders and residents alike consistently cite traffic as the Bay Area’s top problem.  Congestion on Highway 101 between San Jose and San Francisco – our country’s most economically productive corridor – has particularly escalated.  Modernizing Caltrain would substantially increase its ridership and take thousands of cars a day off of Highway 101. Unfortunately, the modernization project has partial but incomplete funding.  The Council will lead an effort to build public and political support  to secure final funding and clear other hurdles, allowing the project to be completed, thereby reducing some of our region’s worst traffic. To join us in modernizing Caltrain, please contact Policy Vice President Michael Cunningham at (415) 946-8706 or mcunningham@bayareacouncil.org.

Expanding China Trade. Global trade is among the biggest drivers of Bay Area economic activity. Through our existing relationship with the Shanghai Yangpu District and a new large-scale “Technology Park” opportunity in Shanghai, we will continue to expand the presence and clout of Bay Area businesses in China with a physical landing pad, and attract more Chinese companies and investments to our region. To join us in increasing trade with China, please contact Director of Global Initiatives Bing Wei at (415) 946-8270 or bwei@bayareacouncil.org.

In addition to these strategic priorities, the Council will continue to collaborate with other partners in supporting a range of key issues, including cybersecurity legislation, high speed rail, science and technology education, water and energy efficiency, and protecting the Hetch Hetchy water system, among others.

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Public Private Partnerships Can Create Millions of CA Jobs, Fix Infrastructure

Ramping up California’s use of public-private partnerships to help fund and construct major infrastructure projects could create millions of jobs, save taxpayers millions of dollars and speed up delivery of projects, according to a report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released this week. The report pegs the cost of California’s unfunded infrastructure needs at up to $737 billion and possibly as much as $765 billion. Using public-private partnerships to generate $250 billion in infrastructure investment could create 1.7 million direct jobs – or 3.4 million total jobs — while investments of $500 billion and $750 billion could create up to 3.3 million and 5.5 million direct jobs, respectively, over 10 years. According to the report, however, California lacks the policies, procedures and practices necessary for government to make broader and effective use of public-private partnerships. The report offers nine recommendations for incorporating public-private partnerships into the state’s toolbox of methods for funding and building infrastructure, including roads, highways, schools, hospitals and other public facilities.

Read the full report: Accelerating Job Creation in California Through Infrastructure Investment: Opportunities for Infrastructure Asset Formation and Job Creation Using Public-Private Partnership Procurement Methods

bizconfidence

Business Confidence, Hiring Outlook on the Rise

The Bay Area Council has released its latest Business Confidence Survey, with CEOs and executives sounding increased optimism for the Bay Area economy over the next six months and registering a modest uptick in their outlook for job growth.

On the jobs front, 25 percent of executives surveyed said they expect to see hiring increase in the next six months, while 55 percent say hiring will remain unchanged and 17 percent expect hiring will decrease. That’s a slight improvement over the previous survey when 60 percent of executives said hiring would remain stagnant.

The outlook for hiring is the strongest in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Alameda counties, while expected job growth remains grim in Contra Costa and Solano counties. In San Francisco, 40 percent of executives surveyed expect hiring to increase in the next six months, up 15 points from the previous survey. In Alameda County, the number of executives who expect to increase hiring jumped 12 points, from 16 percent to 28 percent.

“The results overall show a number of bright spots and provide reason for optimism that our region’s economic recovery is gaining traction and even picking up speed,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “However, they also highlight the fragility and unevenness geographically of our recovery and the imperative for doing everything we can to foster an economic and policy climate that encourages investment and hiring.”

The overall business confidence index registered 54 for the fall survey period, up 3 points from the previous survey and marking a steadying of attitudes from last summer when the index sank 11 points — the largest quarterly decline since 2002. The survey was completed November 30.

The responses of the almost 450 CEOs and top executives in the nine Bay Area counties surveyed show that overall, 43 percent think economic conditions will improve over the next six months while 39 percent say conditions will remain the same and 18 percent expect conditions to worsen. Executives also have seen improvement from six months ago, with 36 percent indicating economic conditions are better, 44 percent the same and 20 percent worse.

San Francisco, the Peninsula and Silicon Valley and Alameda County offered the most optimistic outlook, with 57 percent of those surveyed in San Francisco and San Mateo counties expecting economic conditions to be better in the next six months, 50 percent in Santa Clara County and 45 percent in Alameda County.

Across industries, the outlook for hiring is generally mixed, with the biggest jump in optimism occurring in the construction/transportation sector. Among those surveyed in this sector, 36 percent expect more hiring in the next six months, up from just 20 percent in the previous poll.

“The signs are good that we’re turning the corner on our economic recovery,” said Lenny Mendonca, a member of the Council’s Executive Committee and a director at McKinsey & Company. “What we can’t afford to do is forget that California competes in a global marketplace that isn’t waiting for us to recover. We must address the fiscal and economic challenges that remain, but we also must be looking ahead and setting high goals for ensuring the region and California remain a global economic power.”

Press Release

Survey Results Overall

Survey Graphs

Results by Industry

Results by County

Results by Workforce Size

forecast

Council Releases New Economic Forecast with UCLA Anderson

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute today released its first two-year regional economic forecast as part of a new partnership with the respected UCLA Anderson Forecast. The forecast looks at how employment, personal income, taxable sales, consumer prices and building permits are expected to change over the next two years. “This partnership will expand and deepen our understanding of the unique characteristics of the Bay Area economy and provide us with invaluable data and analysis into the trends that are affecting our region’s economy,” said Sean Randolph, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Pairing the Economic Institute’s unparalleled knowledge of the Bay Area with the Anderson Forecast’s foremost modeling tools, we will gain new and textured insights into the forces that drive job creation and define the region’s innovation economy.”

To download the forecast, visit Bay Area Economic Forecast.

hetchdam

Council Mounts Effort to Protect Vital Regional Water Supply

A campaign to dismantle the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir — the source of clean, reliable and affordable drinking water for 2.5 million residents and businesses of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the East Bay – picked up steam this week with a request by Rep. Dan Lungren to investigate whether San Francisco has been a good steward of the resource. The Bay Area Council has been a strong supporter of keeping the Hetch Hetchy system in place and believes that San Francisco and our region’s strong conservation and water recycling efforts demonstrate well that we do not take this valuable asset for granted. The Council also believes that spending $10 billion to remove a vital piece of infrastructure that benefits so many Californians makes little financial or economic sense at a time when we should be investing public resources to meet our many unmet infrastructure needs. To learn more about the Council’s efforts to protect Hetch Hetchy water, contact Matt Regan at mregan@bayareacouncil.org.