Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive


KTVU: Bay Area Democrats Generally Happy With State Of Union Speech

Bay Area Democratic legislators were generally pleased with President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, while the business community was more divided in its evaluation.

Job creation and government spending were at the core of Obama’s speech, which included references to America’s crisis of confidence following the Russian launch of the Sputnik rocket in 1957 and challenged the nation to have a new “space race” in the form of innovation, education and infrastructure.

“We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people,” he said.

The president also spoke of the importance of reducing the deficit and restructuring the federal government to make it more efficient, but he made it clear he would not abandon government spending on what he considers crucial investments, such as education.

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Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman released the following statement tonight in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight hit every theme and issue that is near and dear to the Bay Area Council. Whether it’s supporting innovation to better compete globally or easing the burden of government regulations, President Obama sent the right signal to the business community that he understands that our success is vital to America’s continued prosperity.  His reinforced commitment to promoting trade, completing high-speed rail and rebuilding our infrastructure also provides optimism that he is committed to creating jobs over the next two years. Ultimately however, his words tonight will only matter if he is able to work across the aisle, forge compromise and bring the country together with real solutions to our nation’s most difficult challenges.”

PDF Statement



Senator Mark Warner speaking with members of the Bay Area Council

Showing off the burgeoning vitality and success of Mission Bay, the Council on Thursday hosted Senator Mark Warner of Virginia for an engaging discussion on innovation and the economy.  Senator Warner, co-founder of Nextel and former Governor of Virginia, emphasized the need for a real innovation strategy in the United States, citing that we have “lost a decade in terms of innovation” in this country.  He touched on the need for an expanded R&D tax credit that could spur innovation the way it did in the 1980’s, and the need to implement a “one in, one out” strategy for adopting new federal business regulations.  The morning’s most poignant moment was when Senator Warner issued a call to action to the business leaders in the room, urging them to become more engaged in the political process to help make strides in innovation, science and technology. We wholeheartedly agree with his message and look forward to partnering with Senator Warner on federal policy to promote innovation and job growth in the future.

View photos from the meeting



The Bay Area Council today announced that they will host U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia for a discussion on innovation, global competitiveness and jobs on Thursday, January 20, 2011.  Senator Warner is looking for input from the Bay Area Council’s members on how the U.S. may better compete globally on factors such as investment in research and development, educating scientists and engineers, and venture capital.  The meeting will be hosted in collaboration with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Holland & Knight LLP.

“Senator Warner is a leader on many fronts in the Senate, from pushing for government accountability to being a champion for small business,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.  “We look forward to having a candid discussion with Senator Warner about how to ensure that the Bay Area, California and the United States are as innovative and globally competitive as possible.”

WHO: Mark R. Warner, United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia

WHAT: Senator Warner in conversation with top Bay Area executives on the topic of global competitiveness in the innovation economy, moderated by Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President Dr. Rob Atkinson.

WHERE: Mission Bay Development Group, 255 Channel St., San Francisco, CA 94158

WHEN: 8:00am – 9:30am
Thursday, January 20, 2011

***All media planning to attend should RSVP to, 415-946-8725***

About Senator Mark Warner:
Mark Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2008.  As a member of the Senate’s Banking Committee, he has been a key leader in bipartisan efforts to effectively update oversight of Wall Street and end taxpayer bailouts of failing financial firms.

He is also viewed as a tireless champion of small businesses on Main Street, working effectively with the White House on creative solutions to try to increase the flow of credit to small businesses that continue to struggle in this tough economy.

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, he was selected to lead a bipartisan task force that is looking for ways to increase accountability and improve government performance to reduce federal budget deficits.

On the Commerce Committee, Senator Warner has worked to promote greater innovation by successfully offering legislation that will result in the first update in nearly 40 years to our nation’s strategic competitiveness plan.

Senator Warner co-founded the cellular company Nextel and made early investments in hundreds of promising new companies that ultimately created thousands of jobs. From 2002 to 2006, he served as Governor of Virginia during its worst economic recession in 20 years, turning record deficits into a budget surplus. When Governor Warner left office in 2006, Virginia was nationally recognized as the country’s “best-managed state” and the “best state for business.”

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Jerry Brown

San Francisco Chronicle: Jerry Brown’s budget earns business leaders’ raves

They like it, they really like it.

That’s the early reaction to Gov. Jerry Brown‘s budget from Bay Area business leaders, economists and a labor representative I spoke to on Tuesday. The governor gets an A+ for “honesty” and for generally grabbing the bull by the horns, even on taxes.

Concerns were expressed on the proposed elimination of state redevelopment and enterprise zone funding, and a requirement that corporations use a “single sales factor,” based on their actual sales in California, to determine corporate tax owed, rather than allowing them to opt for a formula based on employment and property, as well as sales in the state.

Perhaps most important is how the Legislature and the electorate respond. As one business leader said, “Ultimately, the real wild card is whether Californians will be willing to go to the ballot box to tax themselves to stave off more cuts.”

Herewith a sample of opinions, in their own words:

Stephen Levy, director, Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy

The budget is positive for the economy because it’s honest. It says in order to cut $25 billion (the current deficit), everyone’s got to kick in. It’s about allocating pain, and the 50-50 division between spending cuts and tax increases is a strong symbol of Californians sharing the pain.

If we can balance the budget honestly, it’s a signal to business and to investors that California once again can do, rather than the reputation it currently has, which is the state that can’t agree on anything.

Jim Wunderman, CEO, Bay Area Council

The governor is to be commended for a reality-based budget. The state can’t move forward without it. But this is very big and complex and has to be looked at carefully.

We could be supportive of the tax extensions, but they could impact job creation and investments in plants, for example. On the single sales factor, we preferred the more flexible optional approach, and will have to look at the implications of putting every company affected in the one cup of soup.

As to eliminating state money for redevelopment and enterprise zones, we know there are some boondoggles, and money not always used in ways intended, but they’ve also helped with major improvements in areas suffering from economic malnutrition.

We’re currently polling our 275 members on these issues.

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Sacramento Bee: Effort to overhaul California governance at a crossroads

From voters to top policymakers, almost everyone believes California’s government isn’t working. What’s less clear is how to make the system whole again.

The budget is perpetually late and out of balance. The state’s once-celebrated schools and infrastructure have degenerated into some of the lowest-ranked in the country. Polls show public confidence in state government has plummeted.

Fundamental reforms are clearly needed, say leaders of both major parties, to revamp a state constitution that’s been transformed by legislative restrictions and voter mandates into a collection of piecemeal rules.

Amid the clamor, three high-profile efforts have launched over the past three years to reorder California’s governance system. The idea of a constitutional convention to rewrite the rule book has lost momentum, but there is hope that new players on the scene – an obscure billionaire and a new (and former) governor – can breathe life into the effort.

“You can’t underestimate the level of problems we have, and the government as currently situated does not have the tools it needs to make the reforms,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the business group the Bay Area Council, which this year tried to change state law to let voters call a constitutional convention.

“In the end, we have to convince people it’s better to hold a convention and fix the problem than watch this bad movie that is California.”

The latest group, the Think Long Committee, formed by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, brings an important advantage: the money to take its ideas to voters. He has put together a bipartisan group of high-powered players for an effort he acknowledges will take years.

Berggruen said he initially considered organizing a constitutional convention, but opted against one because “it could get out of control very quickly.”

With a new administration coming in, reform backers could find an ally in Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, who has talked of a “design change” for the state and has shown a taste for out-of-the-box solutions during his 40-year career.

But Brown has echoed concerns about a constitutional convention, telling a Marin County audience it would amount to solving “a difficult problem by an even more difficult process.”

Wunderman said members of his business group who saw the need for change balked at funding a constitutional convention that might result in a document they wouldn’t like.

“You couldn’t look them in the face and guarantee the outcome,” Wunderman said.

Read the story…

San Francisco Chronicle – Nancy Pelosi’s clout for Bay Area will be missed

Nowhere will Nancy Pelosi‘s loss of the House speakership be felt more acutely than here in the Bay Area, where her power – and the power of fellow local Democrats in Washington – has been used to help steer hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure projects.

“Just look around,” said Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “The $400 million for the Transbay Terminal project, the Doyle Drive rebuild, the Hunters Point Shipyard cleanup. If she wasn’t there, I’m not sure we would have gotten the funding, and we certainly wouldn’t have gotten it as fast as we did.”

And there are projects still on the table, such as the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail project that is just getting off the ground and looking for big federal money.

“We’re still fortunate to have (Sen.) Dianne Feinstein there, but we’ve lost that one-two punch we had between the House and the Senate,” Lazarus said.

Regional leaders also see a loss of access in Washington.

“It’s difficult working the halls of Congress when you don’t have the speaker of the House who understands specific facets of your region, and isn’t there to help set up meetings,” said Jim Wunderman, head of the Bay Area Council business group. “There will be a price to pay.”

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The Bay Citizen – Pelosi Fall Will Hit Bay Area Hard

The Republican Party’s takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives could have far-reaching implications for the Bay Area.

The Republican’s big national victory in House races means that San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi will lose her position as Speaker of the House. She may also be forced to step down as the Democratic Party’s leader in that chamber.

With Republicans wresting the House from the Democrats’ control, other Bay Area representatives will lose their powerful positions as chairs of committees and subcommittees.

Overall, Northern California’s clout in Washington will be vastly reduced.

This loss of power will be especially felt in San Francisco, said George Broder, of the business-backed Bay Area Council.

This year alone, Broder said, Pelosi brought in $46 million to retrofit Doyle Drive, which connects the Golden Gate Bridge to the Presidio, and $86 million more for toxic clean-up at the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and strong-armed the U.S. Navy into turning Treasure Island over to the city.

“From her perch as Speaker of the House, she’s been able to advocate very effectively for her district,” Broder said.

Read the story…


Bay Area Council’s Positions for November 2010 Ballot

With campaign ads and mailers popping up on your television and in your mailbox, it’s clear that November 2nd is right around the corner. Here are the Bay Area Council’s ballot positions. For those who don’t know, all ballot initiatives must receive 2/3 support of our Executive Committee for us to take a position:

Prop 20: Support

Prop 21: No Position

Prop 22: Support

Prop 23: Oppose

Prop 24: Oppose

Prop 25: No Position

Prop 26: No Position

Prop 27: Oppose


California State Budget Passed… Finally

The California legislature pulled an all-nighter late last week to pass the state budget and solve a $19 billion deficit. The final votes occurred Friday morning since many votes throughout the night failed to gain the support of two-thirds of the legislature. The resulting budget is a reflection of the compromises made in order to meet the two-thirds threshold required. What did make it into the budget, however, is $52.5 billion for K-12 public education and community colleges, and a measure to go on the November 2012 ballot to strengthen the state’s rainy day fund and scale back pension benefits for new state employees.  It also appears that while this is good news for now, there were several “creative” fixes included, which means we will be facing similar deficit issues come January. Déjà vu much?