January 27, 2012

 

REPORT OF THE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
AND PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

 

Honorable Board of Directors
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway
  and Transportation District

 

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole (Committee) was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, on Friday, January 27, 2012, at 9:35 a.m., Chair Cochran presiding.

Committee Members Present (8): Chair Cochran; Vice Chair Campos; Directors Eddie, Moylan, Renée, Sears and Snyder; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (1): Director Mar
Other Directors Present (7): Directors Arnold, Elsbernd, Fredericks, Grosboll, Sobel, Stroeh and Theriault

Committee of the Whole Members Present (15): Directors Arnold, Campos, Cochran, Elsbernd, Fredericks, Moylan, Renée, Sears, Snyder, Sobel, Stroeh and Theriault; Second Vice President Grosboll; First Vice President Eddie; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (4): Directors Chu, Mar, Pahre and Rabbitt

Staff Present: General Manager Denis Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire; District Engineer Ewa Bauer; Secretary of the District Janet Tarantino; Attorney David Miller; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Transit Division James Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Kellee Hopper; Assistant Clerk of the Board Lona Franklin

Visitors Present: Melinda McClain, Platinum Advisors, LLC; Beau Biller, Platinum Advisors, LLC

   
1.

Update from the District’s Legislative Advocates, Platinum Advisors, LLC

General Manager Denis Mulligan introduced Melinda McClain and Beau Biller, of Platinum Advisors, LLC (Platinum), the District’s Legislative Advocates, and stated that they would provide the Committee with an update on legislative activity in California that pertains to the mission of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

Ms. McClain stated that the California Legislature convened on January 5, 2012. The proposed state budget was scheduled to be released on January 10, 2012. However, it was inadvertently released early. A few days later, Governor Brown gave the State of the State Address, which included an overview of the state’s budget and existing conditions, as well as his vision, and a review of the events that took place in the previous year.

Ms. McClain also provided an overview of highlights, including a short explanation of a bill’s route from conception to passage. She indicated that today is the last day for bills to be passed out of the House of origin. Bills not chosen to be heard by the full legislature are termed “dead.” She noted that “dead” bills could “come to life” again through a rule waiver. She added that other bills will be amended and new bills introduced by the end of February.

Regarding the state budget, Ms. McClain stated that in October 2011, Platinum had forecast lower state revenues and budget cuts due to triggering events. This scenario has now taken place. The current budget deficit is approximately $4 Billion, and the forecast for 2013 is an additional deficit of $5 Billion, for a total deficit in the neighborhood of $10 Billion. Trigger cuts are proposed for human services, and a tax proposal is expected to be put on the November 2012, ballot. Democrats in the Senate and Assembly have vowed to support the Governor in his attempt to get a temporary tax increase approved. She stated that, should Governor Brown’s tax proposal not be approved in November, the result would be $5 Billion in cuts, in addition to the trigger cuts that will take effect in education.

She also reported that Governor Brown wishes to make government more efficient and has proposed reforms to meet this end. Many agencies are being eliminated or consolidated with other agencies, including the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. State transit assistance funding will see a small increase. Platinum will track this over the next few months, to assure that the proposal remains on the table, and will alert the District of the outcome.

She concluded by stating that approximately two to three days ago, a pension reform hearing took place to discuss Governor Brown’s proposals. Additional hearings are scheduled. Proposed language is not yet available for these pension proposals, but pension reform will be at the center of further debate.
Mr. Biller reported that Platinum recently expanded its presence in Sacramento, having merged with Suter, Wallauch, Corbett, and Associates. The addition brings to Platinum the state’s premier public sector lobbyists including Lynn Suter, Steve Wallauch, Nicole Wordelman, Casey Kaneko, and Michael Corbett. The firm will retain the Platinum Advisors name. Mr. Biller also reported that Steve Wallauch has previously represented Greyhound Lines.

He stated that a number of retirements from Congress have taken place. Seniority is important in the Congress and, with new Congresspersons coming in, new seniority will become established. He indicated that Platinum will report back to the District on changes. He stated that Platinum estimates that approximately 60% of the legislature will be made up of new arrivals in the autumn of 2012.

Discussion ensued, including the following inquiries and comment:

  • Director Cochran made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether Platinum had yet received word regarding whether the California Supreme Court has released its decision on state Senate District boundary lines. Mr. Biller responded in the negative.
    • He inquired as to whether, should the Governor’s proposal for a temporary tax increase be approved, there would also be budget and/or program cuts. Ms. McClain responded affirmatively, adding that the temporary tax increase would be expected to raise approximately $7 Billion.
  • President Reilly inquired as to whether the $5 Billion that is to go to education is money that is already owed to schools, and is not additional funding. In response, Mr. Biller stated that it is a complicated question and there are many differences of opinion among those who study the legislature, making a “yes” or “no” answer inadequate. He concluded by stating that he will seek a complete answer and report back to the District as to his findings.
  • Director Campos commented that if “yellow school buses” are eliminated as a result of education funding cuts or failure of the temporary tax increase, it will impact transportation agencies in this area. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that, under Governor Brown’s budget proposal, “yellow school buses” are to be eliminated. Mr. Biller stated that he will seek a complete answer and report back to the District as to his findings.

Copies of the reports are available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

   
2.

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

   
3.

Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 9:52 a.m.

   

 

Respectfully submitted,

s/ Gerald D. Cochran, Chair
Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee