After the California Transportation Commission voted to cut $750 million in transportation funding, the Southern California Partnership for Jobs (SCPJ) joined a bipartisan group of local leaders to take action. Gathered at a news conference in Riverside County, elected officials, labor groups and transportation officials urged Sacramento lawmakers to work together to pass a viable transportation funding package that will fix the state’s crumbling roads.

“It’s time we ask our legislators in Sacramento and the governor to work together to put aside differences and find solutions,” said Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington.

SCPJ executive director John Hakel joined Supervisor Washington in making the plea for increased funding. “You don’t always see business and labor agree, but we need a transportation funding package,” he urged.

SCPJ is one organization that has successfully created a partnership of management and labor to advocate for the critical need to invest continuously in our infrastructure. Tom Foss, Chairman and CEO, Griffith Company, believes SCPJ can play an important role in raising public awareness of the funding issue. “The three-quarter-billion-dollar cutback in California transportation infrastructure spending threatens the fabric of road and rail commerce that we have been working to build for more than 100 years,” he said. “Through outreach to the public by the Southern California Partnership for Jobs at the Riverside County news conference, we seek to bring needed focus to this critical issue.”

The large group of stakeholders present at the conference reported first-hand about the dire condition of Southern California’s roads, as well as the types of jobs that are created when transportation projects are adequately funded. “Cutting back transportation projects not only threatens our economy through freight gridlock, but also our workers and their families through job loss,” said Armando Esparza, Business Manager, Southern California District Council of Laborers. “The SCPJ call to action for government officials to counter the cutbacks through increased funding will help reverse this dangerous situation.”

Officials note that, without a decision by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to dedicate more funding to transportation, critically important transportation projects could languish. “It’s going to affect millions of people and affect millions of jobs,” said Indio Mayor Glenn Miller. Labor leaders agree. “Funding for transportation infrastructure development has to be broadened from its lower levels for the sake of the people of Southern California and how they are able to live their lives,” said Ronald Sikorski, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 12. “Media events such as that attended by SCPJ speaking for our workers help shine the light on this issue.”

“We need new thinking, out of the box thinking, new solutions,” urged Washington. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia remains optimistic that Sacramento can get a deal worked out if Republicans and Democrats work together. “There’s got to be a middle ground we can find,” he said.

As the state of California awaits such a deal, the Southern California Partnership for Jobs continues its work to advocate for a positive outcome for all. “Ensuring our communities have adequate transportation infrastructure is good for everyone. It’s good for working families who are stuck on rundown roads and in traffic, and it’s good for local businesses and the economy,” said John Hakel

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