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Press Release · December 2, 2008

Public Policy Institute of California Establishes Economic Recovery Task Force

Bipartisan Group of Experts Will Advise Legislative Leaders

SAN FRANCISCO, California, December 2, 2008 — At the request of the state’s legislative leaders, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has set up a California Economic Recovery Task Force to offer guidance on policy options to jump-start the economy, PPIC announced today.

This bipartisan group is made up of experts with deep knowledge of various economic sectors. Members represent regions across the state and have experience in business, academia, and government. The task force members are:

  • Alan Auerbach, director of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance at the University of California, Berkeley, and former deputy chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation
  • Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush
  • Kathleen Brown, former California state treasurer and currently head of public finance for the west region at Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • John Bryson, senior advisor for infrastructure initiative at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), former chairman and CEO of Edison International, and former president of the California Public Utilities Commission
  • Maria Contreras-Sweet, chairwoman of Promerica Bank and former California secretary of business, transportation, and housing
  • Ed Grier, president of Disneyland Resort, which includes two theme parks, three hotels, and the Downtown Disney retail, dining, and entertainment district
  • John Harris, president and CEO of Harris Ranch, which includes the Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant, Harris Feeding Company, Harris Fresh, and Horse Division
  • James W. Head, director of programs at The San Francisco Foundation and former president of the National Economic Development and Law Center
  • Eric Holoman*, president of Magic Johnson Enterprises and president of the board of the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System
  • Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, a nonpartisan organization focused on environmental and economic issues and founder of the venture capital firm Baccharis Capital Inc.
  • Courtni Pugh, executive director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council and former legislative director for Illinois Congressman Danny K. Davis
  • Fred Ruiz, chairman of Ruiz Foods and founding member of the Institute for Family Business at California State University, Fresno
  • Daniel Young, president of the Irvine Community Development Company and former mayor of Santa Ana

Brown and Young will co-chair the task force meeting. Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, will preside over the group. Members will meet in December to review economic data provided by PPIC researchers, consider policy options, and identify priorities for stimulating a recovery in the current national economic crisis. Their goal is to provide timely feedback to help guide the state’s leaders as they develop their 2009 legislative agendas.

“We believe it is vital that the state’s elected officials face this moment of crisis armed with objective information and expert advice from experienced economic leaders with a wide range of perspectives,” Baldassare said. “We are hosting this conversation in hopes of providing independent guidance that translates into policies that benefit all Californians.”

PPIC set up the task force at the request of Senate President pro-Tempore Darrell Steinberg and with the active support of Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, and Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines.

Steinberg and Cogdill emphasized the bipartisan nature of the task force.

“Any economic stimulus proposals the legislature adopts should be borne from thoughtful analysis and study instead of rigid ideology or partisanship,” said Steinberg. “I am thankful that the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California has agreed to help the legislature respond to these difficult economic times.”

Cogdill said: “I applaud the Public Policy Institute of California for its leadership in convening this bipartisan task force, which will provide innovative recommendations to lawmakers during these challenging times.

“This task force will help shape policy discussions as legislative leaders work together with the governor to dig out of the current deficit and ensure we never again face shortfalls of this magnitude. Revitalizing our fragile economy is the fastest and most effective way for the state to recover from the current budget crisis, and I look forward to reviewing the recommendations that this task force produces.”

Bass added: “Given how severely California has been harmed by the national and international economic turmoil, we need to use every tool at our disposal to get our state’s economy back on track and back to work helping the national economy recover. Given PPIC’s reputation for thoroughness and thoughtfulness, and the array of talent interested in serving on this commission, I’m looking forward to seeing some creative and effective stimulus recommendations in the next couple of weeks.”

Villines said he looked forward to hearing the task force’s ideas:

“The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California has assembled some of our state’s most talented minds and successful business leaders to review California’s business climate and economic outlook and propose common-sense ideas to open our state for business again. Assembly Republicans have already proposed a series of economic recovery measures that we will continue to push for, and I eagerly await these additional recommendations for turning California’s economy around. I stand ready to work across party lines to make economic incentives and job creation a top priority in the special session.”


The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.

* UPDATE, December 11, 2008: Eric Holoman will be unable to participate due to scheduling problems.