March 10, 2017

In Washington D.C., a new Administration with a Republican majority in Congress is in its second month seeking to implement a change in direction with new policies, new appointees, plenty of controversy, and, of course, tweeting. In Sacramento, the Brown Administration enters its final two years with Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature, relatively calm waters, and a list of still-unresolved issues.

While the philosophical and the political differences are as far apart as Sacramento and Washington D.C., many of the problems and issues are the same. Chief among these is repairing the nation’s and California’s crumbling infrastructure.

In Washington, President Trump has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure program over 10 years, emphasizing transportation, energy, and water. Legislators have come up with alternative proposals.  The President recommends “public and private capital” as funding sources but has not offered specifics. That issue is now competing for attention with repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and the President’s proposal to increase military spending by $54 billion, cutting other programs, particularly EPA.

In California, the Governor and Legislative leaders have been proposing raising an additional $4 billion to $7 billion per year for transportation. Those proposals have been on the table for more than a year but no consensus has been reached. Meanwhile, congestion and potholes increase. The Oroville Dam problem serves as a reminder that transportation isn’t the only infrastructure need to be addressed.

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PECG has been active in these arenas. Last week, PECG leaders were in Washington D.C., participating in the annual American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Washington Briefing and the Association of California Water Agencies Conference, meeting with key Members of Congress and Administration officials. PECG is also one of the leaders of the National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASHTU), consisting of PECG’s counterpart organizations in other states. NASHTU seeks additional transportation funding while opposing wasteful outsourcing of public engineering and related services.

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February 19-25 was Engineers Week in California and nationally. State Senator Anthony Cannella authored Senate Resolution 18, which recognizes the “unique knowledge and skill” of California’s 328,000 practicing engineers and “the contributions of engineering professionals to the betterment of humankind.” PECG President Robert Lumahan joined Senator Cannella and leaders of other organizations in the Senate Chamber to mark the adoption of the Resolution.

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The latest PECG Informer noted that PECG cosponsors Science and Engineering Fairs in Sacramento, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, San Diego, Central California (Fresno), and Alameda. PECG members who are interested in serving as judges for high school and middle school projects or related activities should contact your PECG Section leaders to offer your assistance in helping students become more interested in seeking a career in engineering or a related profession.