2002: It's a Wrap!

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Dec. 20, 2002 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Not many manufacturers or their employees would want to relive the year just past. A parade of horrible bills marched through the legislature, despite vigorous opposition, kept us all on edge and worried about manufacturing's already weak condition. The governor helped with some welcome vetoes, and the CPUC tried to help with an exit fee for direct access that capped the pain at 2.7 cents. This is still too high for many companies making hard choices about plant closures and cut-backs, while those on bundled service are suffering still. And, worker's compensation increases must be the last straw for small business owners who wonder what ever made them even hire that first employee.

Can we expect any improvement or relief next year? New taxes to address the state's fiscal crisis, just two years after the energy crisis, would put another big wet blanket on the economy. The possibility of fundamental budget restructuring, the adoption of prudent management practices or other reforms in a bipartisan budget agreement seems remote. It looks now like a brutal power struggle will determine the outcome. Majority-vote fee increases, general fund shifts to user fees, draconian cuts to critical programs, threats of ballot initiatives and referendums are the weapons being cocked and loaded for the fight.

It would be easy to give up, sit back and watch the show unfold. But, of course, that's not our plan. Here's what CMTA will be doing in 2003:

* Last year CMTA commissioned the Milken study and spread the word on the value of manufacturing and the high cost of doing business in California. Republican members are now citing the Milken Study and making economic stimulus and job creation a centerpiece of their budget position. We will continue telling policymakers the Milken story and advocating cost reductions for manufacturers.
* Freshman legislators have no personal stake in the legislation passed in previous years or the cause or fallout of the energy crisis. They may be willing to take a fresh look, question, and push for changes to bills passed by their predecessors. CMTA will meet with each new legislator in January/February.
* With no election-year politics in 2003, it is possible that policymakers will negotiate regulatory reforms that could pay long term dividends. CMTA is well-positioned to engage in many discussions with both republicans and democrats about changes needed to improve the business climate.
* CMTA has launched a new web-based communication program to reach manufacturers in each assembly and senate district. The Milken message will be reinforced to legislators with real-life feedback from manufacturers in their districts on how bills will affect their ability to do business in California.
* The lobbyists and staff at CMTA are ready, willing and eager to take on the huge challenges facing California manufacturers. Their skills and experience makes CMTA a formidable team.

Thanks to all you for your support, encouragement and good humor through 2002. Jack and the staff at CMTA wish you all the best in 2003.
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