March 30, 1993 - From the March, 1993 issue

Speaker Brown’s California Economic Summit

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown’s two-day California Economic Summit, February 16-17 in Los Angeles, brought together business leaders, community activists, and government officials from around the state to find solutions to California’s economic woes. Though some found the proceedings less inspiring than Bill Clinton’s Little Rock summit, others left energized to seek economic reforms from Sacramento.

Will the economic summit lead to lasting economic change in California? The Planning Report asked several of our readers and economic summit participants, “What state actions — incentives and disincentives — do you expect to follow from the recent California Economic Summit?”

I have asked the chairpersons of each Assembly committee to carefully evaluate the summit discussions and, as appropriate, introduce legislation addressing the economic problems that were described, both short-term and long-term. 

Additionally, the Assembly intends to increase its regulatory oversight role and net as an ombudsman between business and government. 

Willie Brown Speaker, California State Assembly 

The State Senate is finalizing a comprehensive economic development package that we hope will have bipartisan support. The key elements will be legislation that will: 1) invest in our human capital resources; 2) rebuild our infrastructure and facilitate the rapid conversion of our defense-related industries and military bases; 3) stimulate business through new, targeted tax incentives; 4) Reform the workers’ compensation system and streamline permit approval processes; and 5) encourage capital formation, international trade, and commerce. 

Sen. David Roberti State Senate President pro Tempore 

I believe consensus will be reached on workers’ comp reform and cutting of red tape. I am concerned that a push for business tax incentives might leave a shortfall which policymakers will try to make up on the backs of individual taxpayers. 

Joel Fox President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association 

I was pleased with the concept, as well as the quality of the Summit Meeting, and Speaker Brown is to be lauded for proposing it. The speakers clearly demonstrated that there are many things that need fixing to make it more competitive for business to operate and remain in California. We should see changes coming out of Sacramento that will encourage business to stay in California. 

Henry W. Wedaa Chairman, South Coast Air Quality Management District 

It’s obvious that we ought to pass workers’ comp reform if only so we can start dealing with the real issues facing California. The Summit degenerated into a discussion of that issue, and it was amusing to see the two people most responsible for why we don’t have reform — Willie Brown and Pete Wilson — listening. I heard relatively little dealing with the long-term issues facing our economy. 

Joel Kotkin Center for the New West; Pepperdine University 

We’ll see three important things coming out of Sacramento: 

1)    We’ll have legislation getting PERS and STRS (the major public employee and teacher pension funds) to make investments in small business; 

2)    We’ll be creating a California Infrastructure Bank, providing risk capital for small business; 

3)    There will be a new State program to help small businesses finance the contracts that State government is providing. 

Don Perry Pine Cobble Partners 

In addition to efforts to resolve problems relating to workers’ compensation, permitting processes, and support for education, it would be very productive to develop a detailed discussion of Ralph Nader’s criticisms of the NAFTA and their implication in term of wage and benefit levels, safety, and the environment. 

Hugo Morris Joint Council of Teamsters, No. 42 

The economic summit has highlighted the differences and commonalities of our private sector and public sector solutions. I think that it will ultimately produce consensus to solve our differences and set us on a course to rebuild our economy based on our strengths: education, work force, and natural resources. 

Evan Braude Long Beach City Council, MTA Board

The likely state actions to follow may be if the summit forces a moratorium on both partisan and uncompromising special interest gridlock: workers’ comp reform; increased tax incentives for small business investment; R&D; and a package of environmental mitigation, a state growth strategy, reform of local planning, fine-tuning of CEQA, state regulatory reform, local government fiscal restructuring, a state infrastructure bank, and authorization for simple majority voter approval of local capital improvement bonds. 


David E. Booher Geyer Associates, Sacramento 

State actions resulting from the State Economic Summit will likely — and hopefully — include:

  • Streamlining the regulatory process
  • Reforming the Workers’ Compensation system
  • Investing in long-term infrastructure needs, including education at all levels, transportation, waste management, and high tech communication systems like fiber optics. 

Conway Collis California Recycling Company 

The Speaker’s Economic Summit keeps people focused on the economy and the need to create jobs. The federal and state government can help by supporting projects that convert defense technology and know-how to other industries. 

The LACMTA/RTD partnership with Northrop and others to create a lightweight (Stealth Bomber material), ADA-accessible, zero-emission transit-bus is one example of such a conversion. Bombers to buses?

Arthur Sohikian LACMTA Federal Government Affairs 

The Summit demonstrated a consensus on the need to act and set high public expectations that the legislature will do so with all deliberate speed. Those actions, which legislators are already undertaking, include reforming the workers’ compensation insurance system, streamlining business permitting, reducing unnecessary regulations, and promoting public and private investments that will create new and higher-paying jobs in California. 

Louis Caldera Assemblymember, Forty-Sixth District 

California’s workers’ compensation system is a mess for small and big businesses alike. The Governor and the Legislature should immediately enact worker compensation reforms that are common to both Governor Wilson’s economic competitiveness report and the Assembly Democrats’ ADEPT report. 

And in order to ensure that tax incentives create jobs, the Legislature and the Governor should adopt my proposal for job development contract tax incentives. These negotiated contracts between business and government would guarantee that the public receives an adequate return on its investment, hopefully in the form of new jobs. 

Gray Davis Controller of the State of California 

I expect to see steps taken to improve the business climate. But prospects for a long-term thriving economy will come only if we include smart investments in young children and their families — California’s work force of tomorrow. Good schools, safe neighborhoods and quality health care will attract and keep workers in this state. 

Wendy Lazarus Vice President for Policy, Children Now 

There were important people from business, industry, academia, and the community who attended this meeting. These were the right people. They have expectations that action will take place. 

I’m optimistic over the issues that were discussed. We realize that we have to take some creative steps to revitalize the economy and generate jobs by spurring economic development through the tax base and other new innovative ideas. 

Ezunial Burts Executive Director, Worldport L.A. 

The Legislature is already moving forward with ideas that came out of the Economic Summit. For example, I have introduced several bills dealing with environmental regulation that attempt to get rid of conflicting, overlapping, and non-sensical regulations and force state agencies to talk with one another. The goal is to create a one-stop, user-friendly business permitting process — without lessening environmental protections one iota. 

On the economic front, I’m looking forward to working with Assemblyman Steve Peace, who recently released an eight-bill economic development package. Some of the ideas are very interesting, including a plan to create an “Economic Development Bank,” which would coordinate federal, state, local and private funding sources to fund infrastructure and job creating projects. 

Debra Bowen Assemblymember, 53rd District


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