There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.
The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.
Behind the Bay Area Council’s continuing advocacy, the California legislature this year took its first (albeit modest) actions to address the state’s historic housing crisis. Much, much more needs to be done, and the Council’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, under the leadership of Chair and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, this week approved a 2018 policy agenda that calls for escalating our work to achieve deeper, stronger and more effective reforms for spurring the tsunami of new housing the state so badly needs. Already, the Council is identifying new legislation for 2018 that can speed the approval and bring down the cost of new housing.
The 2018 agenda also prioritizes ridding the scourge of traffic fom the Bay Area’s roads and highways and getting more commuters out of their vehicles and into ferries, carpools, shuttles and other forms of transit. The Council is gearing up now for a campaign to win passage of Regional Measure 3, a $4.4 billion transportation investment plan that is expected to hit the June 2018 ballot. Rounding out the Council’s top policy priorities for 2018 is building a stronger workforce pipeline to meet the future needs of the region’s employers. The Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is making immense strides to better align educators and employers to close the region’s yawning middle skills and talent gap, as well as creating new career opportunities for underserved youth.
Along with the top three policy priority areas, the 2018 agenda includes gender equity and workforce diversity, healthcare, advanced communication infrastructure, China and global innovation, carbon reduction and renewables, and water and climate resiliency.
The policy agenda was approved Thursday (Dec. 7) during a meeting hosted by new member Santa Clara University. The Board also welcomed state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. and applauded him for his incredible leadership as the author this year of SB 1, which invests $52 billion in statewide transportation improvements, and SB 595, which authorized the vote on Regional Measure 3. Beall talked about both measures and outlined his plans for new legislation for delivering transportation projects faster and at lower cost. The Council will be working closely with Sen. Beall on that project delivery legislation.
The debate over the nation’s healthcare system continues to rage and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO and Bay Area Council Chair Bernard J. Tyson is emerging as a strong national voice on the topic. Tyson was a key witness in testifying before Congress on the latest repeal effort and brought his views to a national television audience in offering analysis on what steps we need to take to stabilize healthcare markets. Tyson advocated for a bipartisan approach to addressing problems with the ACA that ensures access for all to healthcare and healthcare insurance, provides adequate cost-sharing provisions and allows flexibility for states.
Watch Tyson’s comments on ABC News>>
Watch Tyson’s testimony in Congress>>
Would you like to discuss the very latest developments in healthcare policy with other industry leaders? Would you like the chance to weigh in collectively on the health policy proposals currently under consideration in Washington D.C. and Sacramento? Please join us then for the next meeting of the Bay Area Council Healthcare Committee next Thursday, July 6th from 11:30am-1:00pm at the offices of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. We will be welcoming the new co-chair of the Committee, Janet Liang, the President of Kaiser Hospitals & Health System for Northern California. Among other items of business, we will be taking action on whether to submit a letter in opposition to the passage of the BCRA, the Senate version of the national healthcare legislation. The meeting will also feature a short presentation from Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg on the latest in a series of issue briefs on health policy that focuses on what we can learn from international health systems. RSVP here.
Senate Republicans on Thursday (June 22) revealed draft language of a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Better Care Reconciliation Act would be a significant departure from the ACA and would: eliminate the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance, phase out the Medicaid expansion by 2021, allow states to waive health plan minimums required by the ACA, reduce subsidies for those purchasing insurance on the individual market, and end tax increases put in place by the ACA to fund the coverage expansion. If passed, the bill would have far-reaching impacts on the state and regional health systems as well as on the economy, and as such, the Council continues to monitor Congressional efforts in this area. To engage in our healthcare policy work, please contact Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.
Transportation, housing, trade and healthcare were among the issues a Bay Area Council-led business delegation discussed this week in Washington, D.C., with top Congressional and White House leaders. Led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias (Chairman and CEO, TMG Partners) and Council CEO Jim Wunderman, the delegation met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among many other legislators, cabinet and administration officials.
Delegates highlighted the importance of investment in transportation, particularly as it relates to future Northern California megaregion planning. As a growing economy blurs historic Bay Area, Sacramento and San Joaquin regional boundaries, the Bay Area Council is taking action now to address the future transportation, housing and workforce needs of the emerging megaregion. Much of the immediate focus and a major topic in meetings this week was investing to expand megaregion rail capacity, including securing federal transportation dollars for the Amtrak Capitol Corridor service and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE Train).
The Council shared a sneak peek at new research by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that shows the strong and growing connections between Silicon Valley and other parts of the country and how those connections can be leveraged to expand knowledge-based economic opportunities and grow jobs nationwide. The Council also advocated for free and open global trade and immigration policies. Special thanks to our sponsors Microsoft, Oracle, and Alaska Airlines. To learn more about the Council’s federal policy agenda, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.
With rumors continuing to swirl around Republican-led efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, California legislative leaders are taking a different — but no less dangerous — approach. SB 562, The Healthy California Act, aims to transition California to a comprehensive and universal single-payer system. California has been a leader in the implementation of the ACA, and has made substantive and important progress that is now in a precarious position due to Congressional replacement proposals and actions by the Trump administration to undermine its implementation. The Healthy California Act is a symbolic measure that would have a massive impact on the state budget and healthcare system, while dividing the California healthcare and health policy community against itself at the exact wrong time. As such, the Bay Area Council has taken an oppose position on the bill.
This week, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a policy brief, A Pragmatic Approach to Medicaid Reform, highlighting practical bipartisan ways to increase sustainability, flexibility, and value for medical spending in the Medicaid program. Weinberg traveled to Sacramento on Thursday (April 13) to brief legislative staff and policy analysts on the brief and discuss other health reform issues at state and federal levels. This is the first in a series of health reform briefs that will be published throughout the year by the Institute. The briefs will be co-authored by Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg, PhD and Hoover Institution Fellow Lahnee Chen, PhD, who has served as an adviser to numerous public officials, the policy director to the Romney-Ryan presidential campaign, and as a senior official at Health and Human Services under George W. Bush.
To engage with the Council’s Healthcare Committee, please contact Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.
The Bay Area Council today (March 27) applauded the announcement of a new partnership between the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC Berkeley and Zhejiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China, that marks the first step in an exciting new research and development collaboration focused on cutting-edge technology innovations.
An agreement signed by CITRIS and ZJU was made possible with a $1.2 million gift from an alumnus of UC Berkeley, who is the Director of Zhejiang Zerong Network Technology Co. Ltd. This first phase of funding will be used to generate a vision and plan for the new ZJU-CITRIS Research Innovation Center in Hangzhou and attract support for a collaboration of much larger scale and impact on both regions. This global innovation and incubation hub will support the development of technology solutions in the areas of health; sustainable infrastructures; people and robots; and connected communities.
The Council, through its China Global Initiative, was proud to work with the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office of Government and Community Relations and under the leadership of CITRIS Director Costas Spanos in developing the partnership by leveraging our strong relationships in China.
“This new partnership has the potential be a game-changer in fostering cooperation on research and development that can benefit both the Bay Area and China,” said Del Christensen, Chief of the Council’s China Global Initiative. “When the Council entered China 10 years ago, it was specifically with the purpose of helping create opportunities like this. It’s gratifying to see this new collaboration between our region and one of China’s fastest-growing and most innovative capital cities begin to take shape.”
The Council operates offices in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing China, to support business access and cooperation between California and China. To learn about the Council’s China Global Initiative, please contact Del Christensen.
As the world watched the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 10th Annual Economic Forecast presented by McKinsey & Company and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco convened leading economists and top experts to give their economic forecast for the Bay Area, California, and the nation.
The prognosis was clear. As we usher in the new administration, we are on stable footing. Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and a leading expert on the California economy, presented on a set of economic indicators, showing that much of the national political rhetoric around stagnant wages, the impact of trade, and unemployment is not borne out in the economic data. Labor markets are tight and becoming tighter across most of the United States. This is particularly true in California where the housing supply problem is one of the biggest challenges to continued growth. He also assessed that, while GDP is growing relatively slowly, it is growing and economic fundamentals, such as consumer spending, remain strong. Among the challenges cited for slow growth were self-inflcted wounds and political gridlock, a weak global economy, and the shift to an information economy among others. And, while there is little chance for a recession (for now), uncertainty surrounding the new administration’s policy agenda clouds the view forward. There are broad ramifications for potential change in policy in healthcare, immigration, social insurance, trade, manufacturing, and more.
San Francisco Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams offered an exclusive perspective on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market and how the Fed is likely to gradually increase its interest rate targets over time so that the economy grows without risking a bubble. Williams emphasized how the central bank is not influenced by partisan politics, staying politically independent, data-driven and focused on its narrow goals to promote low inflation, full employment and financial stability.
Bay Area Council Economic Institute Chair and McKinsey & Company Western Region Managing Partner Kausik Rajgopal and Aspen Institute Fellow Natalie Foster explored the “Future of the Worker” in the new age of automation and the growing gig economy. In the Bay Area, the independent workforce is 30 percent of the working age population with most digital independents working in order to earn when traditional jobs falter, to provide extra income for high cost of living or to buffer uneven income streams. One of the key points discussed was how automation is focused on specific activities rather than entire jobs, and can spur more job growth.
Anxieties are running high as the new Administration and Congress are signaling imminent changes to the Affordable Care Act if not a full repeal. California and its healthcare industry are heavily invested in the ACA — the law supports over 200,000 jobs in the state, over 1.5 million individuals are enrolled in coverage through Covered California and over 13 million residents now rely on Medi-Cal — and dismantling it would have significant economic as well as human impacts. As such, the Council is actively engaging with lawmakers and experts on both sides of the aisle to ensure pragmatic solutions moving forward.
Additionally, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute will be developing a series of policy briefs to be released throughout the year analyzing policy proposals and their potential impact to California’s economy, its healthcare system, and its citizens. The Council’s Healthcare Committee has assembled a task force to help inform which policy proposals to evaluate and will continue to host regular convenings and discussions. To engage in the Council’s Healthcare Committee, please contact Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.