CSP Legislative Report
by Don Gilbert, Mike Robson, and Trent Smith
March 2, 2010
The Legislature has returned to the State Capitol to begin business on the 2010 Legislative Session for the State of California. The priorities for the Legislature and the Governor for 2010 are to reduce the $21 billion state budget deficit and to enact legislation to help stimulate job creation in the state.
When the Legislature returned in January, the Governor immediately called for an 8th Extraordinary Session of the Legislature to deal with a projected $21 billion deficit. Commonly referred to as the "Special Session," the goal is to take actions on spending and revenues that will have an immediate impact on the remaining four months of the fiscal year and also roll over into the next budget year. With that in mind, the Legislature spent the first two weeks of February conducting hearings on proposals put forward by the Governor to reduce spending on programs and to accelerate the collection of certain revenues without triggering a tax increase. The Special Session of the Legislature was supposed to end on February 22. However, as of the beginning of March, the Special Session is still open and major revenue raising ideas, such as taking gas tax revenue away from local transit agencies and collecting sales tax from out-of-state internet-based retailers, are still being debated by the Legislature.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
During Governor Schwarzenegger's annual State of the State Address, he said "the first priority for the coming year is to get the economy and jobs back. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs." To that end the Governor released a series of proposals that he intends to pursue during the legislative session to stimulate job creation. This package of proposals includes:
With the Governor announcing at the outset that creating jobs was his priority, this quickly became a theme for the bills that were subsequently introduced by the Legislature. The Democrat and Republican leadership of each house announced their own versions of a "jobs package." For Republicans, the common element of their jobs package is the elimination or reduction of regulations by state agencies. For example, there have been several bills to delay or eliminate the requirement that the California Air Resources Board develop regulations to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG).
- Using $500 million through the state Employment Training Panel (ETP) to provide grants to employers for new employee training and training for out-of-work Californians.
- Streamlining environmental review for construction projects.
- Extending the first-time homebuyer tax credit to include the purchase of existing housing stock.
- Exempting the purchase of "green tech" manufacturing from state sales tax.
For the Senate Democrats, the common denominator of their jobs package is the use of government agencies to spend federal funds and state bond money on infrastructure projects and "green economy" matters.
Given the state of the economy, it is encouraging that the Governor and the Legislature have placed a priority on creating jobs. However, many of the proposals lack input from the employer community. As an industry whose sole purpose is to put people to work, the staffing industry is in a unique position as it relates to any legislative solutions relating to employment. For that reason, members of CSP should take the opportunity to participate in the annual CSP Legislative Day in Sacramento on March 23. Details of the legislative day can be found at http://www.cspnet.org/news/legislative.cfm.
Among the issues to educate legislators on is the state Unemployment Insurance (UI) program administered through the Employment Development Department (EDD). As members of CSP are aware, the state UI fund is insolvent and operating through loans from the federal government. There will be legislation considered in the 2010 Legislative Session to increase the tax on employers to fund the program, and the business community is hoping to offset any tax increase with changes to eligibility and reforms of the UI program. As CSP is a major stakeholder in the UI program, on CSP's behalf we have laid the groundwork with other stakeholders and legislators to try to make two staffing industry priorities part of any UI fix: 1) Reinstate the call-back policy for employees upon end of their assignment; and 2) Institute monthly reporting of UI charges to the employer's reserve account.
Health care staffing companies will be interested in SB 1119 introduced by Senator Rod Wright. Currently, this legislation states intent to be amended in a manner that will provide licensure and regulation of the health care staffing industry to ensure that temporary employees in health care settings are competent with the skills and licenses necessary for the jobs in which they are placed.