ACCESS SACRAMENTO 2017: Moving California Forward

By Caitlin Ulrich-Smith and Abraham Mercado

As our state continues to face ambiguity at the federal level, Los Angeles is committed to prioritizing state legislative actions that will support the economy, provide assurance to employers, house our ever-increasing population, and improve infrastructure.

In March, Consensus attended the annual Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce-led advocacy trip ACCESS Sacramento, to share the business perspectives of LA with the State’s top decision-makers at the State Capitol.

Individuals were divided into committees to focus on core issues, including Early Education, Energy and Environment, Health Care, Higher Education, Housing and Homelessness, Innovation and Technology, K-12, Regional Economy, Smart Justice, Transportation, and Water. With over 150 LA business area leaders, meetings are organized with state representatives to present vital issues to the Southern California region.

Consensus Director Abraham Mercado (far right) and his Water committee colleagues pose in front of the California State Capitol at ACCESS Sacramento (photo: Metropolitan Water District of SoCal)

From the very start, it was clear transportation was going to be the emphasis, as Governor Brown’s new transportation bill would be announced at the conference’s conclusion. In January 2017, the Public Policy Institute of California’s Statewide Survey published that a vast majority of Californians indicated investments on roads, highways, and bridges was an important step to moving California forward. While this new bill would raise taxes, Governor Brown was candid by saying “improving infrastructure costs money.”

The Conference also included speeches by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes. Both of whom focused on bipartisan issues to cut the proverbial red tape and meet in the middle to pass common sense legislation.

Other keynotes speakers included Senator Bob Hertzberg and Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly — both of whom discussed the many challenges that face the state. Senator Bob Hertzberg provided insight into the political divisiveness and often times extremely challenging aspects of the job. Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly echoed the Governor’s message of increasing revenue for transportation needs.

California Secretary of Transportation Brian Kelly speaking on increasing revenue for transportation needs at the 2017 ACCESS Sacramento advocacy event (photo: Caitlin Ulrich-Smith)

After a few days of reflecting, we were left with the impression that no matter what political party you belong to, the future of California will depend on the ability to work together. We must continue stay involved on local, state and federal issues to help California’s economic prosperity. We must continue to hold our elected officials accountable to put policies into action and secure the promise of this great state for generations to come.

Associate Caitlin Ulrich-Smith and director Abraham Mercado are part of Consensus, a public relations, marketing, and community engagement firm specializing in transportation, development, land use and energy/water projects, among others. They are passionate about the importance of investing resources in the future of California and its infrastructure.