Local Leaders Fight for the Valley

March 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
More than 30 leaders from cities around Fresno County are headed to Sacramento this week. It's an effort to get state money and make sure the Central Valley's not forgotten.The road to Sacramento starts with Highway 99. And leaders say this busy corridor is also the beginning of a number of valley problems, bringing 45% of the state's heavy trucking through here.

Tony Boren, Fresno County Council of Governments, says "That's about 11.6 million miles, more than south coast, more than bay area, more than San Diego."

Boren says the central valley should get money from port container fees which is the money the state charges for anything arriving at a port, like Oakland or L.A.

"Any cargo goods that comes into port of L.A. this bill will collect some money from those, and that money will be used to clean up the air. What we're saying since a large percentage of those trucks come through the valley, bring goods to the valley, we need to make sure whatever those fees get collected- the valley gets a slice of those," Boren says.

That's the top priority for Boren's group as they head to Sacramento this week.

They'll also lobby for more proposition money, water storage, affordable housing, air quality, and high speed rail.

Leaders say now is the time to plan before the valley's current three million people grows to an estimated nine and a half million in 2050.

Clovis Mayor Bob Whalen is one of 30 area leaders making the trip. "So the money is there- it's on the table. Now the question is how it's going to be divided up. We want to make sure up in Sacramento they know it's not just northern California and southern California. There is a significant central California."

He says the valley presence in Sacramento has improved with valley republicans leading their party in the senate and assembly, but say this region is still outnumbered by representatives for northern and southern California.

Some of the elected officials making the trip include Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea along with the mayors from Kingsburg, San Joaquin, Selma and Parlier.


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