Speaker launches task force on terror effects on state economy

By Jim Wasserman Associated Press Writer
Tuesday October 02, 2001

SACRAMENTO — A special Assembly task force studying effects of September’s terrorist attacks on California’s economy and public safety will begin hearings this month in Sacramento and Los Angeles, Assembly leaders said Monday. 

Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, announced a bipartisan Assembly panel to assess fallout to the state’s multi-billion-dollar entertainment, tourism and air travel industries following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The 18-member task force will convene several hearings around the state in weeks ahead. 

Hertzberg, speaking in a Capitol surrounded by California Highway Patrol cars and checkpoints at entry doors, said, “This tragedy may have struck on the other side of the continent, but the shock wave is being felt in California as well.” 

Legislators may rewrite part of the state’s $103 billion budget in the months ahead to address higher costs of protecting public safety, Hertzberg said. Even before the attacks, legislators feared a $4 billion deficit in next year’s budget from an economic slowdown. 

The task force will begin with a closed meeting Oct. 9 in Sacramento, Hertzberg said. A second public hearing will follow on Monday, Oct. 15, in Los Angeles. 

The group has set no date to share its findings and recommendations. 

Hertzberg said California has had more terrorist threats, even before Sept. 11, than any other state, but “we will not be cowed. We will not live in fear.” 

Flanked by several lawmakers and Sacramento-area law enforcement officials, Hertzberg said the attacks created an “unprecedented crisis” for California. 

The fallout has hurt “tourism, entertainment and air travel, which are a big part of our state,” Hertzberg said. California tourism is a $75 billion annual industry that employs 1 million workers. 

“Forty-thousand people work at Los Angeles Airport alone,” Hertzberg said. 

While the panel’s mission so far lacks specifics, members said they could range from Capitol security to renewing leases on National Guard armories around the state to higher security spending by local police. Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, said legislative leaders support CHP recommendations for concrete planter boxes and traffic barriers in front of the Capitol. Monday morning, state crews had already moved concrete garbage cans and ashtrays near Capitol entrances. 

Californians can make suggestions to the task force by calling toll free: 1-800-977-SAFE.