Cal Cities Board meeting focuses on legislative strategy and policy updates

Mar 1, 2023

The state budget, an anti-local control ballot measure, and new policy statements took center stage at the League of California Cities Board of Directors meeting last week in Artesia.

Cal Cities got a jump-start on the state budget process in December when it sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom calling for the state to invest $3 billion in ongoing funding to help cities spur housing and prevent homelessness, pay down its growing unfunded mandate debt of $1 billion to local governments, and honor the commitments made to local governments in the 2022 Budget Act.

Board members agreed that, despite a state budget shortfall, Cal Cities should prioritize pushing for funding so that cities can address the twin crises of homelessness and housing affordability.

The Board was equally energized by Cal Cities’ response to the California Business Roundtable measure, which qualified for the November 2024 ballot. This measure would decimate vital local and state services to the benefit of some of the largest and wealthiest corporations in California.

Cal Cities is part of a broad coalition of local governments, labor, public safety, education, and infrastructure advocates that are in strong opposition to this measure. Board members underscored the need for cities to join this fight by passing a resolution in opposition.

Advocating for local solutions to the housing crisis was also a Board focus. Following a closed session, the Board directed Cal Cities to launch a public awareness campaign that showcases the work cities are doing on housing and proactively drive a housing agenda that respects local decision-making.

The Board also approved three key policy statements. A policy statement on substance use will allow Cal Cities to support bills that address the significant rise in fentanyl use and deaths. Two other policy statements will support cities’ ability to capture more sales and use tax from large construction projects and define equitable e-commerce sales tax revenue distribution.

The Board approved the organization’s 2023 federal advocacy priorities:

  • Support increased federal funding to assist California cities with housing affordability and homelessness challenges in our communities.
  • Pursue strategies and resources to address crime and its underlying causes
  • Engage in the federal budget and appropriations process to protect and increase essential local revenues.
  • Strengthen disaster preparedness, resiliency, and recovery from climate change impacts through improved collaboration and resources.

The Board approved the Governance Committee report, which included preliminary recommendations to strengthen and enhance the General Assembly in time for this year’s Annual Conference in Sacramento. These recommendations included: updating the voting delegates selection guidelines, changing the timing of the General Assembly, and exploring the use of electronic voting technology. The Committee will provide additional updates and recommendations for the board to consider during the April meeting. 

The next Board meeting is April 14-15 in Sacramento.