Meetings of Rivals the Solution to Complex Problems? Gov. Thinks So

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Governor Newsom’s plan for solving major complex issues is to bring all sides of an issue together to hammer out solutions. It might prove more difficult than he can imagine.

When he signed Assembly Bill 5 to oversee the classification of workers, Newsom declared, “”I will convene leaders from the Legislature, the labor movement and the business community to support innovation and a more inclusive economy…” 

Indeed, last week Newsom’s Chief Economic and Business Advisor Lenny Mendonca, told a meeting of the 88 Cities Summit, an annual economic development conference for Los Angeles County cities sponsored by Propel LA and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, that there would be more conversations about work classifications and that the legislature would pick up the issue again.

As I predicted here, the situation of exemptions under AB 5 will go on interminably and would weaken the bill’s foundation because of exemptions granted and those not granted, undercutting the legitimacy of the effort.

Then again, those conversations could be cut short if an initiative or referendum change drastically or completely does away with AB 5 first.

On restructuring the state’s tax code, Newsom has made a similar pledge to bring warring parties together. A tax discussion is being driven by the split roll tax initiative(s) that are aimed for the 2020 ballot so one presumes the discussions are happening. “My desire is to use this as an exercise in bringing the parties together to see if we can compromise on a more comprehensive tax package,” Newsom told the press.

The meetings are not happening yet but soon, Mendonca says, after the governor completes the legislative term with his bill signing responsibilities.

Will anything be accomplished in these come to the governor gatherings?

You have to believe that the labor unions, which won a major victory with the signing of AB 5 and hope to take the opportunity to sign up a horde of new members don’t have an incentive to budge. Business attitudes are not uniform, but attempts at compromise put forth by the gig economy giants Uber and Lyft were rejected.

Similarly, the supporters of the split roll wanting more money for schools and government have no desire not to get that new cash. The pension squeeze on public workers is about to hit and they seek relief. Business sees any compromise as meaning more tax money extracted from them in one form or another, which means the other side wins.

Getting consensus and having a final proposal adopted is no easy task. I speak from some experience. I have served on six state commissions with well meaning people representing different points of view. All six final reports, many carrying dissenting views, ended up on the shelf.

Newsom wants the meetings less public to work out of the way of prying eyes. Will it work? The track record on such things is not compelling.

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