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WEEKLY FLASH

June 8, 2012

 

Landmark Progress on Pension Reform

Voters in San Jose and San Diego this week delivered a resounding message about how we can begin to make public pensions more fiscally sustainable. Reforming our public pension system was among the top policy priorities established this year by the Bay Area Council’s Executive Committee. The Council formally endorsed Measure B in San Jose, which Mayor Chuck Reed had put forward to address the impact of pension costs that have tripled over the past decade from $73 million to $245 million and hurt the city’s ability to fund basic services. Under the leadership of Duncan Matteson of The Matteson Companies and Alex Mehran of Sunset Development Company, the Council raised considerable financial support for Mayor Reed’s Measure B campaign. Although the measure is now headed to the courts, its passage by 70 percent sends a strong message to Sacramento that voters want to see reform. The Council is continuing its pension reform push and will be meeting with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in the coming weeks to discuss developing a joint strategy on the issue. To participate in the Council’s pension reform work, contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at mregan@bayareacouncil.org.

 
 

Decision Near on High Speed Rail, Early Caltrain Investment

State lawmakers will decide in the next several weeks whether to authorize the sale of $6 billion in voter-approved bonds to begin construction on high speed rail, which the Bay Area Council supports. At stake in the decision is $700 million in funding for modernizing and electrifying Caltrain as part of an early investment by the High Speed Rail Authority to create a “blended system” in which Caltrain will share the tracks with bullet trains running from San Jose, through Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, and connecting to San Francisco. The Bay Area Council has mobilized a coalition of businesses and community groups that support the early investment. The Council on June 12 will be releasing a new study showing that modernizing Caltrain will generate billions in economic activity for the region and state and create thousands of new jobs. To join the coalition, visit Caltrain Electrification Coalition or contact Policy Vice President Michael Cunningham at mcunningham@bayareacouncil.org.

 
 

Campaign to Protect Hetch Hetchy Revs Up

The Bay Area Council’s campaign to protect the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System against being dismantled kicked into high gear this week with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee meeting with a number of Council members and other prominent business leaders to ask for their financial support. The campaign is targeting a measure that will likely appear on the November 2012 ballot that is deceptively presented as a water conservation measure but is designed as the first step in an effort to tear down Hetch Hetchy at a cost of $10 billion. Mayor Lee described the measure as extremely misleading and said a strong campaign would be needed to defeat it. Hetch Hetchy provides pristine drinking water to almost 2.5 million Bay Area residents along with clean energy that powers everything from cable cars to MUNI to schools and hospitals. The meeting came on the heels of a poll the Bay Area Council conducted showing that without a well-funded opposition campaign, proponents of removing Hetch Hetchy can win (Read a story by the SF Chronicle’s Matier & Ross on the poll results). Council member and angel investor Ron Conway committed $25,000 to the campaign and challenged others to do the same. To participate in the campaign, contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at mregan@bayareacouncil.org.

 
 

 

Torlakson Recognizes Council’s Leadership on STEM Education

The Bay Area Council’s efforts to improve science, technology, engineering and math instruction in schools got a lift this week with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s appointment of Policy Vice President Linda Galliher to his California STEM Task Force.  The Task Force will explore the status of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in California, including instructional practices, teacher professional development, student testing, infrastructure and partnerships.  It will assess the state’s future needs and recommend a blueprint for improving STEM teaching and learning and for providing equal access to STEM learning opportunities for all K–12 students. The blueprint will also provide guidance on strategies for implementing the Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and Career Technical Education in California’s K-12 classrooms.  California’s STEM jobs are expected to grow by nearly 20 percent in the next five years alone – twice the average of other jobs – with 80 percent of those jobs expected to be in computing and engineering fields.  That growth is predicated, however, on having a viable STEM workforce with the skills and abilities needed for success in these careers. The Council’s STEM policy work is guided by our Workforce Development Committee chaired by Mohammed Qayoumi, President of San Jose State University. To participate in the Council’s STEM work, contact Linda Galliher at lgalliher@bayareacouncil.org.

 




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