The California Institute
For Federal Policy Research
419 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
voice: 202-546-3700     fax: 202-546-2390     ransdell@calinst.org     http://www.calinst.org
California Capitol Hill Bulletin

Volume 5, Bulletin 11 -- March 26, 1998

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
 Delegation Circulating Letter Urging Release of Immigrant Incarceration Funding
 Disaster Supplemental Moving, But Veto Threat Looms
 BESTEA Approved by House Committees
 Cunningham/Tauscher Letter Supporting California Maritime Academy
 Nearly Half of California Delegation Has Signed Fusion Letter, So Far
 Ag Conference Restores Food Stamps For Some Immigrants
 Resources Panel Reports Salton Sea Bill
 Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Information Privacy Hearing
 Clinton Unveils Administration's National Electricity Deregulation Plan
 House Panel Examines Disaster Costs
 Californians Criticize EPA's Delay of Napalm Disposal from State
 State Health Plan for Uninsured Kids
 McKeon Wants EPA Districts To Match CA Air Resources Board Boundaries
 Air Power Panel Issues Report on B-2
 Supreme Court Refuses Term Limits Case
 Trade And Commerce Agency Posts 1997 California Export Fact Sheet
 GAO Disputes High-Tech Worker Shortage



To expand communications between Washington and California, the California Institute provides periodic faxed bulletins regarding current activity on Capitol Hill which directly impacts our state. Bulletins are published weekly during sessions of Congress, and occasionally during other periods. The e-mail edition is made possible in part by a computer server donation from Sun Microsystems.

DELEGATION CIRCULATING LETTER URGING RELEASE OF IMMIGRANT INCARCERATION FUNDING
     Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Los Angeles) and Jerry Lewis (Redlands) are circulating a letter for signature by the bipartisan California congressional delegation. The letter to Attorney General Janet Reno urges the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expeditiously release the money appropriated to the states in FY97 to offset the costs of incarcerating illegal criminal aliens under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).  The letter states that DOJ has indicated that the funds will not be disbursed until June of 1998, 21 months after they were appropriated.  To date, California has not received any of these funds, which cover the costs incurred by the state from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 1996.
     The letter also encourages the Attorney General to support inclusion of the full authorization level of $650 million in the Fiscal Year 1999 appropriations for reimbursement to the states for the costs of incarcerating illegal criminal immigrants.
     Twenty-one members of the delegation have signed the letter so far.  Last year all 52 members of the delegation signed a letter urging the full $650 million funding level for the SCAAP program.  Members wishing to sign the letter should contact Dave LesStrang or Brian Sanderfoot with Rep. Lewis (5-5861) or Sherry Greenberg with Rep. Roybal-Allard (5-1766).

DISASTER SUPPLEMENTAL MOVING, BUT VETO THREAT LOOMS
     The Senate completed its work on Thursday on S.1768, the FY98 Supplemental containing additional funding for El Niño disaster relief and military operations in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf, but did not take a final vote on the bill, pending House action.  In addition to the $610 million that the Senate Appropriations Committee included in the bill for disaster relief, the full Senate on Wednesday approved by voice vote an additional $1.6 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for use over the next two years to mitigate disaster damages.  During consideration of the additional FEMA money the Senate killed, by a vote of 68-31, an amendment that would have required FEMA funds not used in the current fiscal year to be offset by other cuts.  The Senate also added by voice vote an additional $260 million for Community Development Block Grants for disaster areas.  In action on Thursday, the Senate voted, 84-16, to combine the disaster and defense supplemental with the supplemental bill to fund $17.9 billion for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an action supported by the Administration.  The Senate bill, however, does not contain any money to pay off the U.S. arrearages to the United Nations.
     During consideration of the bill, Senator Barbara Boxer was successful in adding language that would waive the statutory $100-million annual cap on California's emergency highway money.
     On the House side, the Appropriations Committee reported two separate supplemental bills on Tuesday.  One contains $2.9 billion in additional funding for disaster and defense assistance, and one has $17.9 billion for the IMF and $505 million to pay UN arrearages.  The first bill would earmark $570 million for disaster relief funding.  In acting on that bill, however, the Committee agreed to include offsets for the new funding with cuts in other domestic programs, making the bill revenue-neutral.  The proposed cuts include $1.9 billion from the Section 8 housing program, $610 million from airport grants, $250 million from the Clinton Administration's AmeriCorps program, and $75 million from bilingual and immigrant education programs.  If retained, those offsets, particularly the AmeriCorps cut, may draw a veto from the Administration.  Rep. Jerry Lewis (Redlands), who chairs the VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Section 8 program, has indicated that he intends to restore that money in his subcommittee's appropriations. In addition, California receives between 30% and 40% of immigrant education funds.
     To date, damages in California from El Niño are at least $500 million, and that figure is expected to climb.  Although the total amount that the state will receive from the supplemental funding is not yet known, the state will get at least $190 million to cover highway and levee repairs, channel dredging, assistance to growers and ranchers damaged by the floods, and military base repairs.

BESTEA APPROVED BY HOUSE COMMITTEES
     This week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Ways and Means Committees approved H.R. 2400, the Building Efficient Surface Transportation and Equity Act (BESTEA), sending the bill to the Rules Committee before anticipated House Floor action next week.  Earlier this month, the Senate finished work on its own, six-year $214 billion reauthorization measure, S. 1173 (commonly known as ISTEA II).  Congress is working to reauthorize the nation's transportation law before it expires on May 1, 1998.
     The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed, 69-0, the $218 billion highway and transit spending bill on Tuesday.  Before approving the measure, the Committee adopted a manager's amendment that, among other things, promised that each state would receive back at least 90% of its Highway Trust Fund contributions.  Under the 90% guarantee are a state's share of the highway formula funds and its dollar share of the high priority projects listed in the bill.  On average, California has contributed about 10.2% of all funds to the Highway Trust Fund, the largest contribution of any state.  BESTEA provides about $181 billion for highways, including about $9 billion for high priority projects, and California could receive about 9.19% of the combined share of the highway formula and demonstration project funds.  Under the original ISTEA law, California received about 9.13% of the combined funds.  While California received only about 6% of the total dollars set aside for demonstration projects under the original ISTEA law, it would receive about 10.42%, or roughly $910 million worth of the projects proposed by BESTEA over six years.  The Senate bill does not have a similar list of earmarked projects.
     The Committee also adopted a number of the proposals, like designation of the I-5 freeway as a national trade corridor, put forth in a recent bipartisan California ISTEA Task Force letter to Committee Chairman Bud Shuster (PA).  In addition to highway formula and project dollars, California would also receive a substantial share of the transit formula funds (about 13.8% annually), federal dollars for high priority transit projects, and a share of the discretionary funds set aside for highway and transit programs.  It is uncertain what California's total share of overall BESTEA's funds will be.
     On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee, by a voice vote, approved the extension of the highway gas taxes.  The Committee also defeated an amendment to extend the ethanol tax credit beyond 2000.
     Several House members, including Budget Committee Chair John Kasich (OH) oppose the current spending levels in BESTEA.  The House Committee's bill would exceed budget caps by $26 billion, requiring offsets in other programs.  In addition, BESTEA proposes to take the Highway Trust Fund off-budget in fiscal year 1999, a strategy opposed by Senate Budget Committee Chair Pete Domenici (NM).  Watch for lively floor debate in the House, although it hopes to finish work on the legislation before the upcoming April recess.
     For a list of California highway projects designated in BESTEA with associated dollar figures, please visit the Institute's web site at http://www.calinst.org/pubs/BESTEAprojects.htm.
     For a state-by-state table of BESTEA proposed funding levels for various highway accounts, point instead to http://www.calinst.org/pubs/bestea1.htm.
 
CUNNINGHAM AND TAUSCHER CIRCULATING LETTER SUPPORTING CALIFORNIA MARITIME ACADEMY
     Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (San Diego) and Ellen Tauscher (Pleasonton) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter to the California congressional delegation seeking signatures on a letter supporting funding for the state's Maritime Academy.  The letter, to Chairman Hal Rogers (KY) of the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee, requests funding for Fiscal Year 1999 of $9.3 million, representing funding level with the FY95 appropriations.  Last year, Congress appropriated only $7 million.  The money is used by the California Maritime Academy and the five other state academies in Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and Texas to defray the operation and maintenance costs of the U.S. training vessels used by the academies to fulfill the mandatory federal sea-time licensing requirements for cadets.  Members wishing to sign the letter should contact Nicole Heynneman in Rep. Tauscher's office (5-1880) or Frank Purcell in Rep. Cunningham's office (5-7612).  The deadline for signatures is April 3, 1998.

NEARLY HALF OF CALIFORNIA DELEGATION HAS SIGNED FUSION LETTER, SO FAR
     A bipartisan group of nearly half the California Congressional delegation has signed a letter to Energy & Water Appropriations Chair Joseph McDade (PA) seeking a funding level of $250 million for the Fusion Energy Sciences program in FY99.  The level is aimed at partially compensating for the funding shortfalls in the program and is based on the recommendations of two independent scientific review panels.  Among the principal authors of the letter, which is being circulated to all of Congress for signature,  are several Californians, including Reps. Ken Calvert (Corona), Duke Cunningham (San Diego), Bob Filner (San Diego), and Ellen Tauscher (Pleasanton).  California is among the nation's primary fusion research centers and would likely win a substantial share of any additional funds.
     Over the past three years, the fusion energy program has received high level reviews from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the Department of Energy's Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC).  Each review cited the value and promise of the U.S. fusion program and recommended that no less than $250 million be spent annually on the U.S. program.  A 1995 PCAST report urged no less than $320 million be spent per year.
     Staff for Members wishing to sign onto the letter should contact either Tom Jones with Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (5-2721) or John St. Croix with Rep. Tim Roemer (5-3915).

AG CONFERENCE RESTORES FOOD STAMPS FOR SOME IMMIGRANTS
     A House-Senate Conference Committee on an agriculture research bill has agreed to restore some food stamp assistance to legal immigrants who lost those benefits under the 1996 welfare reform law.  The conference agreement includes $642 million over five years to pay for the restoration of benefits.  The Senate bill, passed last year, did not contain any money to provide food stamp assistance.  However, the Administration had sought about $2 billion to restore food stamps to almost all of the estimated 935,000 recipients dropped from the rolls.
     The agreement also contains about $600 million in funding for agriculture research, $500 million for crop insurance programs and $100 million for rural development.  The new costs in the bill will be offset by about $1.8 billion in savings realized as a result of reductions in the amount of money the federal government will pay the states to administer the food stamp program.
     Although it has not yet been determined exactly how many legal immigrants will be put back on the rolls, as home to about 42 percent of the nation's immigrants, California can be expected to receive a significant share of the food stamp money over the next five years.

RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS SALTON SEA BILL
     The House Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power on Thursday favorably reported out H.R. 3267, the Sonny Bono Memorial Salton Sea Reclamation Act, after approving by voice vote an en bloc amendment to the bill.  The bill provides $25 million to study and determine the best method of restoring the heavily salinized sea and $300 million for construction of the chosen remedy at the completion of the review process.  See, Bulletin Vol. 5, Nos. 7-9 (2/26/98, 3/5/98, & 3/12/98).
     The en bloc amendment, offered by Subcommittee Chairman John Doolittle (Rocklin), ensures, among other things, that the full rights of other states to Colorado River water will be preserved, that the Salton Sea University Consortium will be able to fully participate in the study and decision-making process, and that effective, empirical science will be used to make the decision on the best method of clean up.  In addition, Chairman Doolittle stated that a further en bloc amendment will be offered at the full Committee mark up.  The language of that amendment was negotiated among Senator Barbara Boxer, the California delegation members who sponsored the bill, the House Resources Committee, and members from neighboring states who rely on the Colorado River for water.  That amendment is expected to ensure that any Colorado River water needed for clean up will be used in compliance with the water rights of other states, that the opportunity for adequate judicial review will be provided, and that permitting exemptions are not overbroad.

JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS INFORMATION PRIVACY HEARING
     The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property held an oversight  hearing on Thursday to examine current efforts to protect personal privacy in electronic communications.  As access and utilization of the Internet and electronic mail grow exponentially, many parties have expressed concern that individual privacy rights may be undermined as access to more and more personal data becomes possible.
     The Subcommittee heard from David Aaron, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, and David Medine, Associate Director for Credit Practices at the Federal Trade Commission.  Both Secretary Aaron and Director Medine testified that the Administration supports private sector efforts to implement consumer-friendly, self-regulatory practices.  These practices, which on-line businesses and organizations are developing, would be based on providing adequate information to consumers on the use of their personal data, compliance by the industry with self-imposed regulation, and enforcement of compliance and appropriate consumer redress in cases of abuse.
     During questioning by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (VA), the principal sponsor of H.R. 695 to ease export restrictions on encryption products, Sec. Aaron reiterated that the Administration supports the inclusion of a key recovery system in U.S. encryption products for export, but does not intend to request that key recovery be included in encryption products used domestically.
     The Subcommittee also heard testimony from a panel representing academic and non-profit organizations.  Complete testimony from the hearing can be obtained through the Judiciary Committee's website at http://www.house.gov/judiciary.

CLINTON UNVEILS ADMINISTRATION'S NATIONAL ELECTRICITY DEREGULATION PLAN
     On Wednesday, the Clinton Administration announced its plan to deregulate the nation's electricity markets by January 1, 2003.  Under its "Comprehensive Electricity Competition Plan," the Clinton Administration's proposal provides a "flexible mandate," purportedly allowing states or non-regulated utilities to opt-out of the plan if they find through public hearings that their residents would be better off under an alternative plan, such as a regulated market or the state's own competition plan.
     According to the White House plan, in addition to providing customers a choice of electricity generators, the Clinton proposal would, among other things:
- Support stranded cost recovery for utilities of certain past investments as governed by state law and establish a federal back-up stranded cost recovery mechanism if states lack the authority;
- Support "labeling" by requiring all suppliers of electricity to disclose information on price, terms, and conditions of their offerings; type of source generation; and generation emissions characteristics;
- Establish regulatory mechanisms to prevent abuses of market power in the new market;
 Repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA); and
- Establish an independent system operator (ISO) structure and reliability standards to maintain fairness under FERC.
     Among the controversial aspects of the President's competition plan include requirements to increase the nation's production of renewable energy to 5.5% by 2010 and to create a $3 billion public benefit fund (PBF) by adding a non-bypassable distribution charge on all electricity customers.
     Sixteen states, including California, have already taken action to deregulate their electricity rates or have begun the process.  California plans to have its full system up and operating by the end of this month.  The entire 52-member California Congressional delegation has written in support of the California plan.
     For more information on the Clinton Administration's proposal, visit the Department of Energy's website at http://www.hr.doe.gov/electric/plan.html

HOUSE PANEL EXAMINES NATIONAL DISASTER COSTS
     The Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, in an on-going examination of the federal cost of disaster assistance, held a hearing on Thursday to discuss the escalating occurrence and cost of natural disasters and FEMA's progress in mapping flood plains.  The Subcommittee's first hearing in January focused on pre-disaster mitigation activities.
     Through a presentation of charts, FEMA said that disaster costs have risen recently because the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented number of large-scale disasters; since 1993 alone, the nation has had six large-scale disasters, defined as over $500 million in damages.  FEMA Director James Lee Witt, in his submitted testimony, said the number of average annual requests for major disaster declarations increased from 44 for 1982-1992 to 60 for 1993-1997.  From 1982-1997, the President honored 76% of those requests for disaster declarations.  In addition, FEMA said there has been an increase in annual multistate disasters and in the number of people receiving disaster assistance.
       Reps. Steve Horn (Long Beach), Jay Kim (Diamond Bar), and Ellen Tauscher (Pleasanton) attended the hearing and asked the FEMA Director about specific mitigation activities in their districts.  Rep. Horn called attention to FEMA's backlog on the mapping of flood plains.  According to FEMA, it would take $800 million to complete all of its mapping projects, but the result would be about $750 million in estimated savings annually.  Rep Horn also suggested the use of a yearly-appropriated "rainy day fund" for financing disaster relief, instead of the now annual supplemental appropriations process.
     Rep. Kim called attention to the efforts of the San Bernardino County Flood Control District, as a result of recent severe winter storms, to prevent contamination of the surrounding environment and Santa Ana River from contaminated run-off from the Chino Dairy Preserve.  Flood District Engineer Ken A. Miller's written testimony was submitted to the Subcommittee.  The Flood Control District wants help to build a hazard-mitigating water detention basin to prevent flooding of the Preserve.
     Rep. Tauscher complimented Director Witt on FEMA's service to Californians in need and asked the Director how states might be given more control over pre-disaster mitigation projects without creating another layer of bureaucracy.  Director Witt said his agency was working on streamlining its programs to better assist state and local governments in their disaster assistance activities.
      The Subcommittee also approved, on a unanimous voice vote, a bill (H.R. 3035) to direct the President to create a commission to study laws that govern drought emergencies and to suggest improvements or changes to those laws.  Under the bill, the 14-member commission, made up of representatives from federal, state, and local agencies, would have 18 months to submit its findings.
     Testimony will be available on the Committee's website http://www.house.gov/transportation or contact the Committee at 202-225-9446.

CALIFORNIANS CRITICIZE EPA'S DELAY OF NAPALM DISPOSAL FROM STATE
     The nation's last remaining stockpile of obsolete, Vietnam War-era napalm sits in San Diego County, and area Members of Congress are seeking to have it disposed of permanently.  Despite a well-developed plan by EPA, the Navy and the Department of Energy to drain and separate the 34,000 canisters and ship the contents from Fallbrook, CA to a disposal and recycling facility in East Chicago, IN, the EPA has issued an eleventh-hour objection to the move.
     Reps. Jerry Lewis (Redlands), Ron Packard (Oceanside), and Duke Cunningham (San Diego) wrote last week to EPA Administrator Carol Browner expressing "grave disappointment" over the agency's disqualification of the previously accepted disposal site.  The letter notes that Illinois representatives have recently stated that they would "attempt to stop the project in any manner possible."  The EPA decision was made within one day of the recent Illinois primary election.  Reps. Packard and Cunningham also wrote to President Clinton and Energy Secretary Pena regarding the turnabout.
     For further information, and for copies of the Congressmembers' letters, refer to Rep. Packard's website at http://www.house.gov/packard/napalm2.htm

STATE HEALTH PLAN FOR UNINSURED KIDS GETS OK
     On Tuesday, the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave its approval to the state's proposal for participation in the Children's Health Insurance Program. Approved last year by Congress as part of the Balanced Budget Act, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides $24 billion over five years for states to provide health insurance to children (age 19 and under) currently without coverage.
     Under CHIP, funds are allocated according to the state's number of uninsured low-income children; California can receive up to $855 million in new funds for FY98, the largest potential allocation of funds to a state (up to $3.9 billion over five years).  To receive their share of the new federal funds, states had to expand their existing Medicaid program, design a new program, or both.  In addition, a state can spend up to 10% of its benefit expenditures on administration and outreach.  In his FY99 budget proposal, President Clinton requests an additional $900 million over five years to help states expand outreach strategies to reach the estimated 1 in seven children who are uninsured.
     Last October, California's Legislature and Governor Wilson submitted the state's plan for approval by the federal government.  California plans to expand three of its existing programs:  Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid; the Access for Infants and Mothers (AIM) program; and the state's Health Families Program which provides subsidized participation in private health plans.  The state aims to insure up to 100,000 children this year, and increase that number to 500,000 after three years, in an attempt to provide coverage for the state's estimated 580,000 uninsured children.  The state's CHIP plans to enroll 33,000 children in Medi-Cal, and 60,000 by expanding the state's Healthy Families program.
     While federal approval of CHIP begins the flow of federal dollars to California, the state must still resolve a controversial decision made recently by the federal government to prohibit the use of federal money to provide vaccines to children covered by private health plans under the state's Healthy Families program.  Because the law restricts federal payment for immunizations only to those children without insurance or covered by Medicaid, the federal government said it would probably not pay for immunizations for children enrolled in private health plans under the state's Healthy Families program.  As a result, the state will have to pay for those immunizations itself.
     Last week, the California Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, the state agency that runs the Healthy Families program, awarded the contract to administer the state's Healthy Families program to Electronic Data Systems.  Initially, the Board had voted to give the contract to Blue Cross of California, but after objections were made over Blue Cross's potential conflict of interest if it was also an insurer under the program, Blue Cross withdrew as the administrator.  As part of the multi-million dollar contract, Electronic Data Systems guaranteed it could have the Healthy Families program in place by July 1, 1998.

MCKEON WANTS EPA DISTRICTS TO MATCH CA AIR RESOURCES BOARD BOUNDARIES
     Working in conjunction with some of his California colleagues, Rep. Buck McKeon (Santa Clarita) is seeking to have the Environmental Protection Agency redesignate its air quality regions in California in order for them to conform with the regions defined by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  McKeon's "California Air Quality Control Regions Act" would make the redesignation because of concerns that the EPA's current approach of using Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) is overbroad.  California counties are relatively large compared to other states, and thus, McKeon argues, some geographic regions are combined that need not be.  Likewise, county boundaries may unnaturally divide areas that should be considered as part of the same air basin.  For further information, contact Greg Campbell in Rep. McKeon's office.  A map of the CARB districts may be viewed at http://www.arb.ca.gov/emisinv/maps/statemap/dismap.htm

AIR POWER PANEL ISSUES REPORT ON B-2; HEARING SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY
     The Panel to Review Long-Range Air Power this week sent to Congress its recommendations regarding future bomber needs, and recommended that $331 million appropriated in FY 1998 for the B-2 program be used for upgrades and improvements to the existing fleet of 21 aircraft.  The report will be the subject of a hearing on Wednesday, April 1, by the Procurement Subcommittee of the National Security Committee.  The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in 2118 Rayburn House Office Building and will feature testimony from retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Welch, who chaired the review panel.  The plane, built largely in Southern California by Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. and its subcontract partners, has been the subject of disputes between the Clinton Administration, which sought to kill the program, and Congressional and other supporters who sought to build additional aircraft.
 
SUPREME COURT REFUSES CALIFORNIA TERM LIMITS CASE
     Opponents of Proposition 140, the 1990 California initiative that limits the number of terms state legislators can serve in a lifetime, were turned away by the Supreme Court on Monday when the court refused, without comment, to consider their appeal.  Proposition 140, among other things, limited State Assembly members to three two-year terms and State Senators to two four-year terms.  Opponents argued that the term limits law violated the U.S. Constitution's First and Fourteenth Amendments by barring voters from choosing experienced candidates.  By denying to hear the request, the Supreme Court ended a long legal battle to overturn Proposition 140 in the courts.
     Previously, a federal district court judge ruled that the initiative's lifetime ban was unconstitutional.  On appeal, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling on the grounds that the lifetime ban was unconstitutional because voters did not know they were enacting a lifetime ban when approving the initiative.  The full 9th Circuit Court, however, sitting en banc, overruled the smaller panel finding that the lifetime term limits were constitutional.
     Twenty-one states have term limit laws for state legislators, including seven states with lifetime bans.  In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution was needed for the states or Congress to enact term limits on members of Congress.

TRADE AND COMMERCE AGENCY POSTS 1997 CALIFORNIA EXPORT FACT SHEET
     This week, the state Trade and Commerce Agency posted the California Export Fact Sheet -- 1997 Year End Totals on its Internet web site.
     The fact sheet gives an overview of the state's exports, leading industries, job creation, and key markets.  Overall, California's exports account for 16% of total U.S. exports, leading Texas, New York, and Washington.  Though California's exports grew 6.1% in 1997, the state of Washington experienced the fastest rate of export growth over its 1996 level with a 24.9% increase.  California's top export industries were electronics and electrical equipment; these two industries alone account for almost 54% of the state's total exports.  In addition to transportation equipment, instruments, and food, other export industries with strong growth include chemicals, agriculture, miscellaneous manufacturing, primary metal, and rubber and plastics.
     The fact sheet also gives trade statistics for California's trading partners including regional trade groups and individual nations.  Although the largest percentage of California's exports went to ASEAN members in 1997,  exports declined slightly by 2.5% because of the region's financial crisis.  After two years of no growth, the state's exports to the European Union grew by 7.3% in 1997.  According to the fact sheet, California's exports directly or indirectly supported about 1.53 million jobs in 1997.
     For a copy of the fact sheet visit the Agency's web site at http://www.commerce.ca.gov.

GAO DISPUTES HIGH-TECH WORKER SHORTAGE
     In an informal report released on Monday, the General Accounting Office took issue with recent reports finding that there is a shortage of skilled workers in the high technology industry.  The GAO report, entitled Assessment of the Department of Commerce's Report on Workforce Demand and Supply (GAO/HEHS-98-106R), argues that a recent Commerce Department report on the problem contains analytical and methodological weaknesses that call into question the accuracy of the findings.  Nevertheless, GAO did not undertake its own independent research into the supply of high technology workers, and it stressed that weaknesses in the Commerce Department report do not necessarily mean that a shortage does not exist.
     Because the GAO report is considered "correspondence" and not a formal Report, it will not be posted on GAO's website.  Instead, to obtain a copy of the report call GAO's publication line at (202) 512-6000.

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