29th Annual County of San Diego Economic Roundtable

1/25/2013

Good morning everyone and welcome. It is my pleasure to kick off the 29th annual County of San Diego Economic Roundtable. Thank you all for being here.

The Roundtable is the longest-running free local economic forecasting event in our region. It has become the go-to gathering for insight and analysis about the future of our economy.

For nearly 30 years, the County and its partners – the San Diego Workforce Partnership, USD School of Business and U-T San Diego -- have teamed up to bring economists, industry experts, business and non-profit leaders together for this annual event. We look forward to hearing their thoughts today on what 2013 holds for the economy.

Now I'm no economist, but I have decades of experience -- as an elected official – in helping to manage the public’s money. Looking at where the economy is headed is part of my job, and what I see at the state and federal levels right now concerns me.

For example, take the issue of our national debt – an endless subject of debate and finger-pointing in Washington, D.C. Last year, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the growing level of debt could shackle our economy and represents a profound – quote -- "national security threat” -- unquote.

Tax hikes, including the recent sales and income tax increases in California, pose an added challenge to the economy. As one local business leader, Robert Shillman, recently put it – quote -- "The increase in an already-high tax rate is a strong disincentive for people who live and work in California." – unquote. He and others worry that this will lead to an exodus of the wealthy and ultimately a decline in our standard of living.

I’m glad to say that our San Diego County government is a bright spot in all this. We take pride in our fiscal stability. There’s a reason why we enjoy a triple-A bond rating, and it’s because we continue to be fiscally prudent with tax dollars and take a disciplined approach to managing resources.

To help strengthen our local economy, we’re marshaling tax dollars for critical infrastructure projects and other improvements. These projects can also boost public safety and improve our quality of life. We’ve been building libraries, Sheriff stations and other facilities in recent years. We built a new “platinum award winning” County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa.

All together, the County has invested $1.24 billion in more than 70 capital projects since 2002. Many have been largely funded with cash, saving the public $1.4 billion in interest costs and sparing our kids and grandkids of any added public debt.

These bread-and-butter projects created nearly 18,000 jobs and have helped drive our economy forward. Consider this related example recently included in a U-T San Diego editorial: Imagine the cost of shipping avocados from Fallbrook to New York if the federal government had neglected to build the interstate highway system.

I would like to thank our partners in hosting today’s event, and for their efforts to support the region – the Workforce Partnership, the U-T and the University of San Diego School of Business Administration, which has once again welcomed us to this beautiful facility.

I hope you enjoy the Roundtable. Now I’d like to introduce to Christina De Vaca, Director of Master of Science in Executive Leadership at USD, for a few words.