Published Wednesday, March 29, 2006, in the San Francisco Examiner
Governor: Economy's better, please pass the bond
By Marisa Lagos
SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger swooped into The City on
Tuesday to tout the state's recent economic improvements and sell Bay
Area business leaders on a multibillion-dollar infrastructure bond he
has made the centerpiece of his administration.
At the last-minute event organized by the Bay Area Economic Forum, the
governor and two of his Cabinet members stressed the upturn in
California's economy since Schwarzenegger took office in November
2003. The governor, who was met with warm applause, particularly
focused on job growth and shrinking unemployment rates, which he said
fell by 1.8 percent during the same period.
By contrast, according to Schwarzenegger's office, unemployment in the
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City region fell by about 1.4 percent
from 2004 to 2005, and about 13,400 new jobs were created.
Several local business leaders at the event said San Francisco has not
kept pace with the economic upswing seen statewide, and warned that
Schwarzenegger's proposed infrastructure initiative ignores some of
the Bay Area's most pressing issues: the seismic retrofit of
hospitals, improvements to public transit and the need for more
"There are parts of the Bay Area that need road improvements, but
high-speed rail, BART and intra-city transit also need improvement,"
said Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, adding that
San Francisco's job market has not bounced back as fast as
California's overall. "Obviously the job market imploded in 2000 to
2001, after the dot-com boom and [the terror attacks of Sept. 11,
2001]. We are climbing out of that hole, but not as fast as the rest
of the state."
The governor also stressed a 70 percent decrease in the state's
structural deficit since 2003, and said his workers' compensation
reforms are part of the reason for the economic upswing.
"In 2003 we had big challenges in front of us. The most important
thing was to bring the economy back -- we had to recover, reform and
rebuild California," he said.
Schwarzenegger also tried to shore up support for about $68 billion in
general obligation bonds he says are needed in the next decade for
California's roads, highways, levees and buildings. The governor is
currently in negotiations with state legislators to get a bond measure
on the November ballot.
"Of course the critics say it is too expensive, but we have to teach
them the difference between spending and investing in our future," he