‘2020’ Report: Port Merger, Minimum Wage Hike Would Jump-Start Economy
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A panel comprised of prominent Southland government, business and labor leaders Wednesday threw its support behind several “precedent-setting” steps like combining the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to return the region to prosperity.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports the Los Angeles 2020 Commission panelists also indicated widespread backing for a regional approach to a minimum wage in excess of the $10 per hour target set by Governor Brown.
Other proposals included in the A Time For Action (PDF) report included creating an independent rate-setting body for the DWP, a new budget-planning process, and holding city elections simultaneously with state and federal elections to boost voter participation.
The Los Angeles 2020 Commission, convened by City Council President Herb Wesson in early 2013, first met last April to examine the city’s economic woes and put it on a path to fiscal stability and renewed job creation.
With nearly zero job growth for more than 20 years, the report recommended merging the two major Southern California ports and creating a regional authority to boost tourism and improve regional collaboration to generate jobs.
“All too often the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach issue press releases boasting of new customers,” according to the report. “One only has to study the details to understand these customers are just switching from L.A. to Long Beach or vice versa and not bringing new jobs to the region.”
Former U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor, who co-chairs the commission, said he supports hiking up the minimum wage to $11 an hour and moving forward on other projects that have been already approved.
“Get them built, put people to work,” Kantor said.
A report from the 2020 Commission issued in January cited several pressing issues ranging from poor economic development and traffic to budgetary cuts and rising pension costs as factors that have contributed to the city’s current fiscal condition.
The latest report also called for increased transparency and the appointment of an independent regulator for the Department of Water and Power (DWP) over questions of how $40 million in ratepayer funds given to two nonprofit trusts was spent.
But when asked why one of the Commission’s own members, Brian D’Arcy, balked at a request to hand over the financial records of one of the two unions linked to the DWP’s spending, an unidentified member told Baird, “we do not look at that.”
Former California Gov. Gray Davis and former U.S. Labor Secretary and Southland Congresswoman Hilda Solis were among the 12 members of the 2020 Commission panel.