County Puts Focus on Economic Growth

January 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to establish a committee charged with fostering economic growth and better-paying jobs.

Supervisor Hilda Solis proposed creating the Economic Development Policy Committee.
“Creatively exploring ways to create more jobs for the residents of Los Angeles County is a top priority for me this year,” Solis said. “If we want more jobs that pay fair wages, then we all have to make concerted efforts to encourage more economic development.”

The board has initiated various programs designed to fuel job growth, including efforts aimed at small businesses. However, Solis said a more strategic approach was required.

The move came in response to a five-year strategic plan developed for the county by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, working with more than 500 local leaders and stakeholders.

The LAEDC described the plan as a “roadmap to improve standards of living for L.A. County’s 10 million residents by fostering more broadly shared prosperity.”

A preview of the still-to-be-released plan detailed more than 100 strategies intended to advance high-skill, technology-driven industries and connect disadvantaged communities to that growth.

Some of the plan’s broad goals include strengthening export-oriented industries, being more business-friendly and building more livable communities.

The LAEDC laid out the challenges facing the county as “widening income inequality, tepid wage growth, housing unaffordability and structural poverty.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the county’s action Tuesday highlighted a change in the board’s perspective.

“The county has always been seen as a safety net,” Kuehl said. “(But) it’s insufficient to just stand under the bridge, waiting for people to fall off.”

The LAEDC will work with the county chief executive officer and department directors to come up with recommendations for implementing the plan.

A report back is expected in 90 days.

A preview of the plan can be found at www.laedc.org.

County to Create Task Force to Prep for Immigration Changes

February 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a task force to plan for implementation of President Barack Obama’s immigration orders, despite a court order halting the programs.

If the two executive orders clear legal hurdles, they could defer deportation for nearly 500,000 Los Angeles-area residents

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl recommended the task force, which will include employees from departments that manage voting, consumer fraud, property taxes, hospitals, community and senior services, parks and libraries. Supervisor Michael Antonovich dissented in the 4-1 vote, saying the effort was premature.

“People have asked me, `Why now?”’ Solis said. “My response is, ‘Why not now?’ We need to prepare our community.”

While talking about the economic benefits of the immigration changes, Solis also raised concerns about fraud perpetrated by those looking to take advantage of immigrants when the programs roll out.

Research by UCLA’s North American Integration and Development Center estimate that offering work permits to roughly 466,000 immigrants in Los Angeles County could generate another $1.1 billion in tax revenues and 38,500 jobs.

“We would essentially legalize $25 billion … it would come out of the shadows and become part of the formal economy,” UCLA Associate Professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda told the board.

Hinojosa-Ojeda said immigration is “by no means solely a Mexican issue,” noting that “one out of every seven Asians in this country is undocumented.”

The two programs — Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — would allow an estimated 3.7 million parents of U.S.-born and resident children and another roughly 300,000 immigrants who arrived illegally as children to apply for work permits and temporary protection from deportation. Those totals are based on estimates from the Migration Policy Institute.

More than 600,000 people have already qualified under the 2012 DACA program, which offers protections to young people who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children. That total represents about half of those eligible for the program.

The age cap under that program would be eliminated under the latest executive action.

The new programs were set to start accepting applications Feb. 18, but a federal district court judge in Texas issued an injunction halting the program, ruling in favor of 20-plus states, led by Texas, that challenged the executive actions.

Antonovich said he believes “immigration is vital to this country,” but the county should wait for the legal battle to play out.

Solis reminded her colleagues about the “fierce fight” around the original DACA order, while Kuehl said she was “confident” that the courts would ultimately approve the President’s action.

“We will not wait to prepare,” Kuehl said.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who joined Solis and Kuehl at a morning news conference to highlight his commitment to immigration, said the task force was “our opportunity to telegraph to the nation that we get it … Let’s accord everyone who we can a sense of dignity and respect.”

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor leader Rusty Hicks offered his union’s support.

“There is much about life that we don’t control. we don’t control the color of our skin, where we are born or who our parents are,” Hicks said, urging the supervisors to “keep (the) promise” of immigration.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s chief of immigrant affairs called Los Angeles “the epicenter for the implementation.” Garcetti, who has joined the mayors of several other cities in support of DACA and DAPA, had already reached out to county departments to coordinate, Solis said.

“Enrollment will result in economic gains and safer communities,” Garcetti chief Linda Lopez told the board.

In addition to objections raised in legal challenges to Obama’s action, those opposed to the task force raised concerns about immigrants competing for jobs and other resources.

“The county of Los Angeles has the highest poverty rate of any county in the state,” resident Kevin Lynn said. “If the optimistic projections that were voiced earlier … were anything but delusion, wouldn’t this county be experiencing less  poverty and more prosperity?”

Those protected under the program would not be eligible for federal public benefits such as financial aid, food stamps or housing subsidies. Whether they would be eligible for state aid would be decided on a state-by-state basis.

Antonovich said he expected that the immigration changes would ultimately end up costing the county money.

“Counties, cities and states have to pick up the tab,” Antonovich said.

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