San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and the mayors of San Diego and Los Angeles returned to California after a brief and busy trip in Washington, D.C., during which the mayor's of California's largest cities advocated for certain items in the federal stimulus package.
Reed, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders met Wednesday with mayors of other big cities including the mayors of Fresno and Santa Ana as well as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In meetings with congressional members and members of the Obama administration, the mayors concentrated on advocating for certain items in the stimulus they did not want to see removed during negotiations.
"We had a pretty good day," Reed said as he headed back to the airport for a redeye flight back to San Jose. News of a possible agreement on the stimulus package changed some scheduling, Reed said.
"It appears that the conference committee has arrived at a tentative deal," Reed said this afternoon. "We haven't seen the details yet, but it's most likely to be very close to the Senate version (of the bill) because the Senate vote was very, very tight."
The Senate version of the stimulus bill contained provisions for clean technology the California mayors were advocating for, Reed said.
"That's especially important to San Jose, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego because that will be good for our local economies," Reed said.
The California mayors were also concerned about funding for education construction, which had been essentially stripped from the Senate bill. Reed said he is hopeful the funding will remain in the compromised version but will not know for sure until he reads the fine print.
Before word of a stimulus package agreement came today, Reed said he and the other big city mayors met this morning with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss transportation funding.
"The other area of great concern to big city mayors was to ensure that transportation funding under either version (of the bill) would not get tied up at the state level and used for other purposes like solving budget problems," Reed explained.
The Obama administration has assured big city mayors that transportation funding included in the stimulus package will be put into circulation quickly to create jobs and move projects forward, Reed said.
The trip was part of an ongoing effort to make sure big cities that drive the U.S. economy see important provisions in the stimulus package, Reed said.
"This trip is only part of an overall effort that's been going on for weeks," he said. "We just thought that we oughta come in to make the case personally (and) add to the efforts our staffs have been making."
The San Jose mayor has another, longer trip to Washington, D.C. slated for March 1. The upcoming trip will be focused solely on the needs of the city of San Jose, Reed said.
"Today was about California and big cities," Reed said. "The next one will be about the issues that we have, the funding that we're looking for."
Reed said he would concentrate on the city's clean technology agenda while meeting with legislative leaders and others during the March 1 trip.