As those of you who attended the Installation Dinner know, our friend Executive Director Wes May is now at the helm of one of our allied associations, the Southern California Contractors Association (SCCA). We commend Wes on his great work during his time at ECA and look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role
Because of this, I was recently asked to step in as Interim Executive Director of ECA, since I already work closely with the association on key policy issues as its lead political consultant. In addition to knowing and working with ECAfor some time now, I have an extensive background in association management and am happy to serve during the ECA’s search for a new Executive Director.
Challenges and opportunities
Gavin Newsom, the new governor of California, articulated his agenda and direction during his State-of-the-State (SOS) address in early February, which included three big ECAbacked infrastructure issues: California WaterFix, High-Speed Rail and the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1).
In his SOS message, Newsom shared his vision to limit the WaterFix to one tunnel and to only complete the high-speed rail work already begun in the Central Valley. This reflects the governor’s belief that there isn’t enough money or support to fully accomplish the goals of these two heavy infrastructure projects as currently planned. While we are disappointed in these cutbacks, we are happy to see that the governor is putting these projects on a path that will more realistically lead to completion.
The plan outlined in the SOS to withhold SB 1 transportation funds from communities which fail to meet state affordable housing goals stirred the most controversy. Governor Newsom backed away from taking immediate action to withhold local transportation dollars for four years and offered funding to help cities and counties get their housing planning efforts on track.
Besides the Governor, other Sacramento challenges arise from the upper floors of the Capitol where the new laws get written. Some are “zombie bills” like SB 307—identical to SB 120, defeated in 2018 and Assembly Bill 1000, shelved in 2017—all intended to stop the ECA-supported Cadiz Water Project. We are already working to stop SB 307, an ill-conceived bill that will kill 6,000 construction jobs and stop $250 million in private infrastructure investment.
As always, a new governor and new legislative session bring both challenges and opportunities for our industry. Your association stands ready to take on the policy, project, and political challenges facing us in the year ahead.
By Rich Lambros ECA Interim Executive Director Email: [email protected]