How will CEQA Changes Modernize the California Economy?

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

The news about the California economy is less gloomy than it was a year ago. A look at some recent reporting shows a mixed bag, but with the trends in the right direction.

CNBC reported that our state’s economy is definitely turning around. The story quotes California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer as saying that “half of the new jobs created in the United States in the last year were create in California.” That’s the kind of good news we haven’t been hearing.

The state’s unemployment rate has dropped below 10 percent, although that news was tempered by reports that oil giant Chevron, a company literally born in this state in 1879, is moving 800 corporate jobs to Texas. Most of the jobs are in the information and advanced technology areas.

When you speak with people about the type of jobs moving to Texas, they often say they are low-paying service jobs. That may be, but these 800 jobs that Chevron is moving over the next two years are good ones in the information and advanced energy tech section.

As the state’s economy slowly begins to turn, the discussion in Sacramento among Legislators is already turning to California’s competitiveness as a “job creator.”

The Legislature is likely to take up CEQA reform this legislative cycle. CEQA is an acronym for the California Environmental Quality Act, a law that was created in 1970 and has become a lightning rod in the tension that has long existed between environmental interests and business interests. The California Economic Summit identified CEQA modernization as one of its seven Signature Initiatives in improving the state’s economy. California Forward, the non-profit, bipartisan government reform group, is interested in promoting inclusive and informed dialogue about the issue with the goal of fostering consensus on how to move forward.

This video, produced by California Forward, explains the complex debate that CEQA engenders. This article from the San Diego Union Tribune by Michael Gardner also outlines the debate, which promises to be among the most interesting in this coming year.

In the meantime, the economic arrows are pointing in the right direction in California. This jobs recovery in the Golden State, by all accounts is fragile. Any progress that is made in Sacramento and in Washington will help firm the recovery up as we enter 2013.

Crossposted on California Forward Reporting

This was originally published on the California Economic Summit blog.

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