Chairman Reed and Members of the Committee, thank you for your kind invitation for me to speak before you, from a business perspective, about TEA-21's benefits for economic development and the business community, and for my comments on TEA-21's matching requirements, the act in general, recommendations on the reauthorization of TEA-21, and Silicon Valley's future transit needs.
BACKGROUND OF SVMG
By way of background, the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group was formed in 1978 by David Packard, Co-Founder of Hewlett Packard, as a way for CEO's and Senior Executives to get directly and proactively involved in issues of importance to the economic health of Silicon Valley, and the quality of life of their employees.
Today, the SVMG represents 190 of Silicon Valley's most respected, private sector employers, who collectively provide 275,000 local jobs, or nearly one of every four private sector jobs in all of Silicon Valley. Needless to say, these numbers do not include the jobs these companies provide around the entire State, our nation, and world. It focuses on five core issues: Transportation, affordable homes, education, the environment and energy.
BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE ON TRAFFIC RELIEF
As you all know from the employers and their employees in your States, traffic congestion has a direct impact on not only the quality of life of your constituents, but on the economic health of our communities as well.
In making that statement, I want to provide you with more than an anecdote. Each year, as CEO of the Manufacturing Group, I sit down for one-on-one visits with 95 of the top CEO's in Silicon Valley, and ask a simple question: For your company, here in Silicon Valley, what are the key issues that impact your ability to stay healthy and competitive, as an employer. The top responses, for five years in a row, are traffic relief and affordable homes.
The reason is clear - in an Information Age Economy, workers in Silicon Valley and in many of the communities each of you represent, workers can work anywhere in the world they like. They will only choose to work in our States if we ensure that we have reduced traffic, and provide viable alternatives to the automobile.
LOCAL ACTIONS - DEEDS LOUDER THAN WORDS
It would be easy for me to appear before you to discuss transit needs but to not do anything about it. At the Manufacturing Group, we continue to do what we can to put our wallets where our words are.
In 1984, we led the countywide effort in California to become a self-help county - that is, a county that was willing to tax themselves, through a voter approved ballot initiative, to fund improvements ourselves. That ten-year, half cent sales tax raised $1 billion in local funds, and built three key transportation improvements, which were completed on-time and on-budget.
In 1996, recognizing that additional improvements were needed, we once again spearheaded a half-cent sales tax, this time to last for nine years, which would generate $1.4 billion. That measure, which includes 18 improvements - 65 percent rail transit and 35 percent roads, will be completed, as promised, by the deadline in April, 2006.
In November of 2000, we co-led an effort to tax ourselves with a 30-year, half-cent sales tax, for a traffic relief measure that will generate more than $6 billion in local funds, for a measure that is 100 percent transit. Santa Clara County voters passed that initiative by a resounding 72 percent of the vote.
All told, those three measures alone will generate more than $8.4 billion in local funding. It is important to note that 41-cents of every dollar we raise in sales tax revenue is paid for by employers. In a global marketplace, where our employers cannot pass off those additional costs to customers, we view these measures not as a tax, but as an investment, in our economy and in our workers.
FEEDBACK ON TEA-21 RENEWAL
There are two key points I would like to make about the renewal of TEA-21.
First, retain the Flexibility provisions of ISTEA and TEA-21. This has allowed local decisions and local input about how dollars are spent. In Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, through our MPO - the Metropolitan Transportation Commission - this has meant the ability to direct dollars to a greatly needed road improvement, or a new rail line, or an enhanced bus system. That flexibility is key to areas throughout our states, especially urban and suburban areas that need as many tools in the toolkit as possible.
Second, the New Starts Program. In a time of limited federal resources, where you are asked to fund numerous worthwhile improvements throughout the country, I would underscore the need to leverage each one of those taxpayer dollars to the fullest. As I described above, our region has stepped up to the plate with local funds that well exceed the minimum 20% non-Federal match. We believe the Congress should consider rewarding "Super Matched" projects, such as the Silicon Valley Rapid Rail Corridor in my area with credit enhancement techniques or other Federal guarantees to ease project financing. This will also provide an incentive to other areas around the nation to step up to the plate as well. With limited dollars, we need to seek out and reward those communities that have shown a strong willingness to help themselves, to partner with you, and to find funding to match federal funding.
IMPROVEMENTS FOR SILICON VALLEY
Finally, I am honored that you have asked what improvements are important for the on-going success of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area region. Working through the MTC's two-year planning process, the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area has developed an improvement plan known as MTC Resolution Number 3434 that includes top tier priorities for Federal Funding consideration.
First, our current Number One priority is to finish the greatly anticipated BART (or Bay Area Rapid Transit) line to San Francisco International Airport. It is vital to our region's economy, and we stand together with the rest of the region in support of this important improvement.
As we complete the BART to SFO extension, the Bay Area stands united behind two equally important regional improvements - both with considerable amounts of matching funds from the local level.
These two improvements are the Silicon Valley Rapid Rail Corridor, bringing BART from the East Bay to Silicon Valley, and the third Street light rail project in downtown San Francisco. Let me briefly expand on the improvement closer to home.
The Silicon Valley Rapid Rail Corridor, bringing BART to Silicon Valley, would ease traffic congestion into and out of Silicon Valley, and take nearly 80,000 travelers out of their cars on a daily basis. Underscoring the region's desire to build this improvement, our November 2000 sales tax measure will fund 61 percent of the capitol costs, along with on-going operations costs, with roughly $3 billion local dollars. Working with our Governor and State Legislature, we have secured another 17 percent of the funds from the State. We come to you with 78 percent in local and state funds, seeking - over the next ten years - only 22 percent in Federal Funds.
We hope this significant overmatch shows our commitment to traffic relief for workers in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, and we look forward to making this improvement a reality.
Mr. Chair and Members of the Subcommittee, thanks again for your time and attention. It is an honor to be here, and an honor to forge worthwhile partnerships like this between the private and public sectors.
Home | Menu | Links | Info | Chairman's Page