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Steve Burd Safeway.JPGSenate Democrats holding a closed-door policy conference today and Wednesday are reviewing options for slashing the state budget and listening to the concerns and ideas of Safeway's CEO and other business interests.

"The issue of jobs and the economy in the Capitol bubble sometimes doesn't lead to the most productive solutions," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, told the Bee.

He said the Senate Democratic Caucus is hearing "sobering" presentations about the state budget deficit that must be back-filled.

Senators will hear more Wednesday on "what policy makers can do to attract and retain high-wage industries in California," Steinberg said.

Among the speakers: Steve Burd, CEO of Safeway and a Republican; green energy supporter and SunPower CEO Thomas Werner; wealthy Democrat Tom Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management; Edward de la Rosa, an investment banker from Los Angeles; and a representative of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

Senators are interested in hearing about green energy and how several bills they have pending could promote job growth in that area. They're also interested, Steinberg said, in hearing about the impact budget cuts could have on the state's economy.

"We're not taking vote cards here today," Steinberg said, commenting on whether the caucus is united in backing Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $12.6 billion in cuts. However, he said, "there is a common commitment to making the cuts that are necessary."

Economists from the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses made presentations today. The senators are meeting at the UC Davis MIND Institute, part of the school's medical treatment and research complex in Sacramento.

PHOTO CREDIT: Safeway CEO Steve Burd smiles as he sits in a Safeway truck at a Safeway store in Dublin, Calif., Friday, Jan. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/ Paul Sakuma)



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