As the kickoff speaker for the 17th annual Envisioning California Conference, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) used his time at the podium to push for more investment in the state’s transportation, educational and economic infrastructure. This year’s conference, sponsored by the Center for Southern California Studies at California State University Northridge, examined the impact that an ever growing population has placed on the state, which has not seen a major investment in infrastructure in the last 40 years. In his remarks, Nunez said that California faces the prospect of falling behind every other education system in the country over the next 25 years. He added that earthquake-prone California has not given the proper consideration to seismic retrofitting efforts and levee repairs, leaving the state open for natural disaster damage comparable to what Hurricane Katrina has wrought in Louisiana. “The last time that California made a significant investment in infrastructure, whether it be transportation, water, the building of colleges and universities, was in the late 50s, early 60s with Governor Pat Brown, who at the time was not the most popular governor in the world,” said Nunez. “It is amazing how we’re starting to think about those Pat Brown years now as the true golden years of California, when we really cared about our future.” Nunez said that the ballot initiatives going before the public in November, however, address none of the state’s crucial problems. “Make no mistake about this election. There is not one initiative on this ballot that is going to help fix a single school, or shave a single minute off of your commute from and to work, or make it easier for any of us to afford health care coverage or make housing accessible to those that don’t have it today,” Nunez said. Nunez added that Sacramento Democrats are planning to introduce a transportation infrastructure bond shortly after the November election, which he hopes will be supported by the candidates in the next governor’s race next year. Without further investment in the state’s higher education system, he said, California may no longer be able to claim that all of its residents have the same opportunity no matter how much money they have or where they live. “That is the type of California that we all need to invest in again, the type of California that says that nobody ought to be left behind,” Nunez said. “The only way that we’re going to be able to be competitive in the marketplace is to bring and draw in the types of businesses and industries to this state that create good paying jobs.” Nunez said that California needs to do everything it can, from supporting tax credits to the motion picture industry to diverting more money to the state’s research institutions, to make sure the state remains at the economic forefront of the country. Legislative cooperation, he said, will be the critical component in restarting the state’s investment in infrastructure. “At the end of the day when it’s all said and done, I don’t want to be judged by partisan bickering and attacks when we really ought to be preparing to build a better future for California, and doing it today,” Nunez said. David Phelps, Director of Government Relations at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, said he hoped Nunez was sincere in his desire to cooperate with different branches of government. “We do need improved, bipartisan cooperation between the executive and the legislative branches, which is something we did not seen enough of in the previous session,” Phelps said.