Assemblymember Skinner discusses Berkeley with Chamber of Commerce

Members of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce held an informal discussion regarding the financial state of California with State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley Monday morning.

At the meeting, which was the year’s first meeting for the commerce’s Committee on General Affairs, Skinner discussed how budgetary concerns in Sacramento will affect the city of Berkeley. Skinner specifically touched on public education, redevelopment in the city and state and infrastructure concerns.

“This is about the state of the state,” Skinner said. “California voters should look at … themselves and realize we have met the enemy and it is us.”

Prominent members of the business community including Roland Peterson, interim chair of the general affairs committee at the Chamber of Commerce, and Dave Fogarty, the city’s economic development coordinator, questioned Skinner about Berkeley’s economic development at the meeting.

Skinner said that given the global economic downturn politicians have to put party differences aside and focus on the task at hand, the most important being increasing revenue for the state.

“We structurally are not providing enough revenue to provide what Californians want,” Skinner said. “The per capita spending rate of the general fund has been at an all time low for the first time in 30 years … we need to spend more, not less.”

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed measures to increase revenue on the ballot this November, which will involve rising sales taxes and taxing those with higher income levels more.

Skinner said the city needs to focus on voting these specific measures into law this fall or there will be even higher cuts to public education in the state. She said these ballot measures will bring in approximately $4 billion to $6 billion.

“There needs to be a statewide dialogue on the precipice of Californians’ investment,” Skinner said. “We are condemning California to mediocrity educationally and economically.”