When most people think about voting, they think that their vote for president is the most important vote they can give.
Let me tell you: those people are wrong. In California, your vote for president doesn’t mean a whole lot. But your vote in this year’s election is even more important than your vote in 2016. California passes so many bad laws that as a business community, we need to keep our focus firmly at home. Business owners are all too familiar with the “well-intentioned” new regulation that ends up costing jobs and wasting an opportunity to grow.
Businesses are responsible for growing the economy, and every voice in California depends on a vibrant economy. Making sure the business voice is heard will benefit all Californians as they consider their ballot this year. And there’s a lot to consider: 11 statewide measures, two City of Los Angeles measures, a Los Angeles County measure, and many more local city and school district bonds, taxes and laws.
Ballot measures are even more important than bills passed by the Legislature: they can only be overturned by another vote of the people. That’s why measures such as Proposition 6 are so dangerous. Placed on the ballot for partisan reasons by politicians in Washington, D.C., Proposition 6 doesn’t just threaten existing funding for road improvements. It also requires a costly ballot measure campaign for any future attempt to raise revenue for projects such as the East San Fernando Valley line, new carpool lanes on the 5 freeway in Santa Clarita and improvements to the Metro Orange line right here in the San Fernando Valley.
The business community understands how important investing in infrastructure is: these are the types of investments which will grow our economy. We need to vote no on Proposition 6.
An example of the type of “investment” which doesn’t grow our economy can be found in Measure W. It places a new tax per-square-foot on impermeable surfaces in order to fund a vague new set of programs around stormwater.
As a Valley resident, I have a few problems with this. First of all, the Valley will be paying way more than our share. We live in a lower-density community with surface parking lots, low-rise buildings and larger residential plots.
Secondly, Valley businesses that have invested millions of dollars in water recycling or reduction will have to go through an onerous new process so they can get a rebate and avoid paying twice. Penalizing the innovators by making them pay a new tax is the definition of short-sighted.
Finally, I’ve never heard that stormwater infrastructure helps grow the economy, and Measure W never sunsets – so you’ll never stop paying. In contrast to Measure W, Proposition 3 is also related to water, but this bond measure is a smart investment in securing our future water supply.
There are other measures that impact the business community – Proposition 10 will chill the supply of new housing, so your employees will end up paying even more for housing or commuting even further. Proposition 1 will help address the lack of affordable housing and is an important step forward.
And then there’s the ballot measures under the “What Were They Thinking” category. This includes Proposition 7, which attempts to place California on year-round Daylight Savings Time. Good luck working with other businesses across state lines – although as the proposal is not legal under federal law, you probably won’t need to worry for a while yet. The best I can say is that it will keep our legislators occupied and distract them from worse ideas to come out of Sacramento.
Less amusingly, Proposition 8 would cap the revenue of kidney dialysis clinics – not the profit, but the revenue. Analysis has shown that the overwhelming majority of clinics wouldn’t be able to stay afloat if Proposition 8 passes, which is potentially deadly for Californians who rely on these clinics.
So as ballots are mailed out, I urge you to talk to your employees, your friends, and your family. This election has a lot at stake for the business community and all Californians.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley at the local, state and federal levels of government.