Every year, the Sacramento Metro Chamber organizes a delegation of hundreds of area officials and business leaders to travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with federal representatives. The Capitol-to-Capitol program is meant to secure funding and resources for high-priority projects in the region and raise local concerns to officials at the national level. This year’s delegation will spend April 14 to 18 in Washington.
West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Roseville Mayor Susan Rohan, vice chairs of this year’s program, sat down with the Business Journal to discuss the program’s primary objectives.
What is a project in your city you hope to bring attention to while in D.C.?
Cabaldon: Last year, one of the top priorities was securing funding for the Downtown Riverfront Streetcar project, which has been a significant regional priority and is partially in my own city. It was a great victory — as we left D.C., we got the support of Congress to move forward with the project and secured $50 to $100 million in funding for the project. Part of our objective this year is to make sure we get that Small Starts Grant agreement signed with the federal government. That should be ministerial — we’ve met all the criteria — but what we have learned through the Cap-to-Cap program and elsewhere over the years is that you can’t let go. Once the congressional vote is done, you have to keep working the individual federal agencies and others to make sure it gets accomplished.
Rohan: I’m looking at the Interstate 80 and Highway 65 interchange project — one of the four freight projects in the program this year. It’s a phase-one and phase-two project — phase one is $28 million and phase two is $50 million. Part of the reason it’s significant to the region is it’s a significant mover of freight through the region. Interstate 80 is the northern-most crossing of the Sierras, and an estimated $4.7 million worth of goods per hour cross through that interchange. So we’re looking for improvements to that area — not just for Roseville but the entire region.
What are the key agencies you will look to meet with while in D.C.?
Cabaldon: On the streetcar, we’re going to be meeting with the Federal Transit Administration, but also the Office of Management and Budget, the White House, all of the key congressional committees and our own congressional delegations so they know what we’re hearing from the other agencies.
One of the benefits of having the largest delegation (traveling to D.C.) of any region in the country is that we can cover the full landscape — which is necessary. We know that it’s not to visit the congressional office or stop by the White House, that you really have to get into the guts of the federal government. Having over 360 elected and civic officials on the ground in D.C. at the same time — on flood protection, for example, we’re able to go to the Army Corps of Engineers and to the Senate committees that deal with appropriations and laws on flood protection, and we’re able to go to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. So you don’t miss a beat of making sure that you’re getting your message to everyone inside the federal government.
What actions by the federal government under the new administration have impacted the local economy?
Cabaldon: The tax reform law — especially on local tax deductibility — will have a continuing effect on the investment climate and our ability to support increased infrastructure in our communities and in our region. There is a severe limitation on the deductibility of income taxes and property taxes. After (local taxpayers) deduct a portion of their state income taxes, they won’t have any deductibility left for their local property taxes. And we as a community and a region depend on property taxes and local property assessments to be able to mount the sort of significant infrastructure or public safety improvements that are essential to our prosperity.
But, we do Cap-to-Cap not to join the battle of the parties in Washington, D.C., but instead to keep our heads down and get the job done.
Rohan: What we’re trying to do is look for continued bipartisan commitment to federal funding. We’re looking for streamlining project delivery — and we’re asking the federal government to increase their interagency cooperation.
Source: Sacramento Business Journal