Overview of the March 16 2021, Hearing

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy (JEDE) will be convening the second in a series of informational hearings and briefings examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the California economy.  These activities will serve as a foundation from which the Members will undertake the committee's primary missions of overseeing state programs and evaluating legislative proposals.

This memorandum provides general information on the structure of the March 16, 2021, hearing, the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and workers, profiles on a selection of COVID relief programs, and an outline of economic recovery recommendations.  The appendix includes fact sheets and other materials developed by the JEDE staff and stakeholder organizations.

Overview of the Hearing

This JEDE Committee hearing focuses on current and proposed actions that are capable of supporting an inclusive economic recovery for all Californians and regions of the state.  Using a framework of economic resiliency, the JEDE Committee will use this information to continue its work in examining factors that contribute to long-term economic security for entrepreneurs, workers, and the communities in which they live and work. 

Inclusive economic policies are not a new priority for the JEDE Committee.  Data clearly shows that prior to the pandemic, many small business owners, workers, and neighborhoods, did not have access to the same economic opportunities of other areas of the state.  Even with 120 straight months of economic growth, income disparities were generally increasing.  The COVID-19 pandemic merely amplified these economic and health disparities.  Appendix F includes specifics on pre-pandemic income inequality in California, which set the stage for current economic recovery challenges.

As the Legislature transitions its policy focus from emergency response to economic recovery, it is important to reflect on the unintended outcomes from prior economic recovery and expansion efforts.  The data shows that too often policy solutions geared to assist businesses and workers, generally, were not able to address the deeper economic challenges of workers of color, and women- and minority-owned businesses.  In turn, these uneven economic benefits served as a drag on the state’s overall quality of life and effectively sidelined millions of creative and productive people. 

Considering prior economic stimulus discussions and the prospect of a spate of new economic recovery proposals, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a framework in February 2021 for evaluating state economic stimulus proposals.  The LAO framework emphasizes timeliness, targeting, and ensuring that recovery actions do not inadvertently exacerbate pre-existing inequities.  Other key considerations, according to the LAO, are choosing the appropriate source of funding and the potential actions of the federal government.

Following opening comments by members of the committee, Brian Uhler, Deputy Legislative Analyst, will discuss his office’s perspectives on how this framework applies to current proposals, including the Governor’s $14 billion economic recovery package, as well as providing a preliminary look at how the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and the proposed $2 trillion federal climate mitigation and public infrastructure plan could be leveraged for a more inclusive economic recovery in California.

This presentation will be followed by Tim Rainey, Executive Director of the California Workforce Development Board who will discuss strategies for re-employment and upskilling of workers.  Among other duties, the Board provides advice to the Governor and Legislature, oversees the state’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and generally serves as the state's primary place where labor, business, industry, and education stakeholders come together.  The current Board works closely with Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to address economic development challenges and to create career pathways that provide businesses the skilled workforce they need, as well as putting unemployed and underemployed Californians back to work.  During COVID-19, the Board, which is comprised of 45+ labor and business representatives, is active on a number of initiatives, including:

Ongoing Initiatives

2020 Initiatives

  • Governor’s Executive Order N-79-20, which requires in-state sale of new automobiles be zero–emission by 2035, and medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.  The order also directs the Labor Agency and Office of Planning and Research to develop a Just Transitions Road Map. EO N-79-20, will build on the AB 398 (E. Garcia) report when developing a Just Transition policy framework.  AB 398 calls for linking major climate policies to support high-quality jobs with accessible training pathways, especially for disadvantaged Californians

  • AB 639 (Cervantes) Port Transition to a Lower Carbon Economy, which creates a stakeholder process for unions, port authorities, legislators, and the public [in the LA/Long Beach port complex – the busiest port in the western hemisphere] to develop findings on the effects of automation and to mitigate the impact on workers. The intent is to find a way to get labor and management to move together with workers on the issue of automation.

  • Workforce Transition Taskforce, convened by Labor Secretary Su to provide coordination and make recommendations, including finding opportunities for align responses to the emergency with hiring opportunities for laid off workers.  The California Workforce Development Board is a key partner in this work, including on a Hospitality Training Academy in L.A. that converted hotel kitchens and restaurants throughout the state into community kitchens that could tap into federal dollars to feed people, retain workers, and keep businesses going.

In the final panel, formal presentations will be set aside to allow Members to engage directly with business and labor leaders on their economic priorities for 2021, and how these priorities support an inclusive economic recovery from the COIVD-19-induced recession.  The panelists include: 

  • Lance Hastings, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTC). The mission of the CMTC is to advance policies and initiatives that contribute to a positive business climate for California's 30,000 manufacturing, processing, and technology based-companies that generate more than $300 billion every year and employs more than 1.2 million Californians.  Established in 1918, CMTA represents over 400 businesses within the manufacturing community and has been an active state partner during COVID-19 by, among other things, engaging its members on how to pivot production lines to produce personal protective equipment.  #CAMaking

  • Ron Miller, Executive Secretary, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.  The Council is an umbrella group representing 48 local unions and district councils in 14 trades, representing more than 100,000 skilled men and women.  Among other important projects, members of these represented trades are building what will become the tallest tower west of the Mississippi – the Wilshire Grand.  In addition, the Council is an active partner and sponsor of apprenticeships in the Building Trades and offering opportunities to military veterans through Helmets to Hardhats.  Affiliated local unions across the state annually contribute $200 million toward joint labor-management training programs.

  • Tracy Stanhoff, President, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California. Ms. Stanhoff also serves as director of the US Department of Defense’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center for Native American entrepreneurs, including the 206 Indian tribes and reservations in Pacific, Western, and Northwest Bureau of Indian Affairs regions that are comprised of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington states.  The Chamber is one of 34 state grantees under the Small Business Technical Assistance Expansion Program and an outreach partner for the $2.6 billion state Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant.

Presenter background materials, available at the time of publication, can be found in the Appendices of this report and accessed online at https://ajed.assembly.ca.gov/content/hearing-imapct-covid-19-pandemic-small-businesses

To Provide Public Comments  

The public and individuals representing organizations and businesses are encouraged to add their voices to this important dialogue.  Individuals interested in providing testimony during the public comment agenda item may reserve a space through the Office of the Assembly Jobs Committee prior to the hearing or signup on the day of the hearing on the public comment sheet that will be available at the Sergeants' Desk during the hearing.  

In addition to the public comment period during the hearing, written comments may be submitted through the Office of the Assembly Jobs Committee until April 15, 2021. 

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