California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Compton) hosted a forum at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) June 30 to discuss the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 and its potential for increasing transportation job and construction contracts for large and small businesses in the state.
The forum consisted of two roundtables that took place in CSUDH’s University Library that included Brown, Bradford, and transportation officials, and was attended by education leaders and other elected officials. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Carson Mayor Albert Robles, CSUDH President Willie J. Hagan, and California State University Chancellor Timothy White provided opening remarks for the event.
Passed in April 2017, SB: 1 was co-authored by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and Assemblymember Jim L. Frazier Jr. (D-Discovery Bay) to invest $52.4 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California, including 17,000 miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts. To pay for the construction, the controversial bill will increase the state gasoline tax from 12 to 30 cents a gallon over the next 10 years, and increase new vehicle registration fees on traditional and zero-emission cars.
It’s about bringing diverse enterprises together and providing real opportunities – Sen. Steven Bradford.
Representatives of Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) discussed how the agency would help implement the legislation, which features the development of a public outreach program to increase employment opportunities for a broad and diverse pool of applicants, including women, minority, and disabled veteran-owned businesses – a point Bradford echoed and said was why he organized the forum.
“It’s about bringing diverse enterprises together and providing real opportunities. We want to make sure that the workforce is as diverse as California, but we also want to make sure that those obstacles that we’ve heard about for far too long about the impediments for small businesses to do work with California are removed, or at least smooth the pathway a little bit,” said Bradford (’85, B.A., political science; B.A., sociology), a CSUDH alumnus who has championed other legislation to assist minority business owners and workers. “That’s also why we’re here today, to understand what some of those challenges are and to share with you the opportunities.”
Following their roundtable, Brown, Bradford, de León, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (District 34), and Assemblymember Autumn Burke (District 62) held a press conference in front of the University Art Gallery, which included reporters from the Los Angeles Times and Daily Breeze. SB: 1 passed the state Assembly and Senate by a small margin, and it has its share of critics. A survey by the University of California, Berkeley found that 58 percent of voters oppose the bill and fee hikes.
“There is an attitude that is very counterproductive. There are people who say, ‘Yes, fix our roads, but don’t ask us for any money.’ That type of attitude reaches all the way to the White House,” said Brown. “So we are here to wake ourselves up, to send a message. It is going to take you to keep the heat on, to keep pressure on, and to help wake this country up.”