A delegation of business leaders and staff from the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and San Rafael Chamber of Commerce spent the day in Sacramento on May 23. In the morning, our delegates joined chamber and business leaders from throughout the state for CalChamber’s advocacy summit, and in the afternoon we met with North Bay legislators to advocate for policies to improve both the business climate and quality of life in our cities and counties.
At the meetings with Senators Dodd and McGuire and Assemblymembers Wood, Aguiar-Curry and Levine, the delegates discussed the critical policy priorities of transportation, housing/fire rebuild and recovery, workforce/education, and homelessness.
Related to transportation, the importance of SB1 transportation funding (http://rebuildingca.ca.gov/) and the critical need to fight an impending November repeal was clear to all involved. If maintained, SB1 funds will complete construction of a third lane on both the north- and south-bound segments of Highway 101 in Sonoma County to alleviate the bottleneck at the Sonoma Marin Narrows. SB1 will also provide nearly $17 million annually in local road improvement funds in addition to funding the extension of SMART through Windsor and Healdsburg. Senator McGuire pointed out that 14,000 living wage jobs are created for every billion dollars the state spends on transportation infrastructure.
A priority for all five North Bay legislators continues to be the rebuild and recovery efforts from the October fires. Our legislators have been working together as a delegation and have had numerous meetings with the Governor’s office and the Office of Emergency Services on post-disaster budget priorities. This work has paid off – Senator McGuire was happy to report that the Governor’s budget revision includes $29.1 million to waive the local match for North Bay counties to cover the costs of debris removal as well as $21.8 million to backfill property tax revenue losses, which will help local governments continue to provide critical services.
Reflecting on the day, Santa Rosa Metro Chamber CEO Peter Rumble said, “This kind of advocacy work isn’t the most visible to our members, but it is one of the most valuable things we can do – making sure the interests of our members are addressed in Sacramento provides dividends for them and for our community for years to come.”
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