Bill could cost state 51,000 jobs

A local congresswoman and local political leaders gathered in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday to draw attention to a Republican proposal in Washington that they say works against national goals of job growth and improving the economy.

A transportation bill spearheaded by Republicans in the House of Representatives would cost California 51,000 jobs alone, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, claimed at a news conference held at the site of a city street project off Johnson Avenue and Buchon Street.

Capps and others said Congress needs to take a serious look at what they described as the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure” and deal with it sooner rather than later.

They said that street projects such as the one off Johnson would put people to work while also bringing infrastructure up to date.

Capps was joined at the morning event by San Luis Obispo County Supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson and San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, among others.

They displayed charts and graphs prepared by staffers at the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments showing expected cuts in funding for local projects should the transportation bill pass.

The bill at issue is being shepherded by Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It is among the proposals aimed at cutting spending in order to reduce the growing federal budget deficit.

The bill, according to the Council of Governments analysis, could lead to local cuts such as less road maintenance throughout the county, fewer miles of highways repaved or a possible end to weekend and evening bus service.

Asked how she can persuade Republicans — who have resolved to reduce federal deficit spending — to support her position, Capps said that those lawmakers have constituents as well where these proposed cuts would have an effect.

Gibson — who is also chairman of the Council of Government’s board of directors — argued that not spending on infrastructure with a sluggish economy is “about the most wrongheaded thing that I can imagine.”