By DAVID FLEMING, THOMAS FLINTOFT AND TRACY RAFTER
Another year of double-digit unemployment, anemic economic growth forecasts, escalating costs, taxes and fees, regulatory uncertainty – all these issues are on the minds of California business owners as they prepare to vote Nov. 2. And while state lawmakers pat themselves on the backs for approving a budget 100 days late, business owners know Sacramento has done little to address the long-term economic and fiscal challenges that threaten our once-Golden State.
What does business want this election? Simple: We want Sacramento policymakers to stop tying our hands behind our backs with policies, regulations and self-interested political maneuverings that are hindering our economic recovery and instead give private-sector job creators the chance to do what we do best to help all of us get back on track – TO CREATE JOBS.
If there is any doubt that business owners desperately need some breathing room, consider that just last week California was ranked more than halfway down Forbes’ list of The Best States for Business in 2010 at No. 39 – another notch lower from 2009. Then there’s the 2010 Kosmont-Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Survey that found fully one-third of the nation’s 40 most expensive cities are located in California. Not least is the tally by Joseph Vranich, an Irvine-based business-relocation coach, who reports that so far this year 158 companies have left California completely or re-directed capital to build facilities out of state – three times last year’s total.
The Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) – representing 70 top business organizations with over 100,000 business owners providing nearly 2 million jobs – is urging business owners to take back control at the polls this November by supporting measures that will help propel economic recovery though job-creation, and reject snake-oil propositions that only continue to fuel the dysfunction.
Oppose Propositions 24, 25 & 27
While propositions on redistricting and the state budget may not seem to have much to do with business – business owners know different.
Cloaked in the appearance of “good government reform” – ostensibly lowering the legislative vote threshold for budget approval so we don’t end up in another 100-day pickle without a plan – Prop. 25 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing because it also would eliminate the right of voters to use the referendum to force a vote to repeal bad legislation and would allow the state Legislature to more easily enact certain types of taxes.
Prop. 24 doesn’t even try to hide its blatant money-grab by special interests seeking to overturn already-approved tax breaks for business in order to plug budget gaps and avoid doing the real fundamental work of restructuring the state budget. BizFed believes Sacramento politicians should spend more time making the hard decisions needed to balance the budget, and not take the easy way out by placing the burden on business and force even more jobs out of California.
Meanwhile, Prop. 27 seeks to overturn the very will of California voters by eliminating the 2008 voter-approved Citizens Redistricting Commission – and putting control of redistricting back into the hands of self-interested lawmakers. Lawmakers drawing their own district boundaries will make it even harder for business owners and all voters to hold them accountable and responsible for their actions.
Support Propositions 20, 22, 23 & 26
Some say the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Well, it’s time for voters to stop that cycle in Sacramento by supporting propositions that empower us all.
Prop. 20 not only supports voters’ voice in 2008 for a citizen’s panel to determine district boundaries for state lawmakers but expands it to Congressional districts. Prop. 26 will make it tougher for Sacramento politicians to raise our taxes. And Prop. 22 will protect our local revenues and infrastructure funds from state raids and send a clarion call to Sacramento: Stop impeding local economic recovery by taking money from our local governments to make up for your inability to make tough budget decisions.
Finally, business believes wholeheartedly that we must protect our environment. However, in this current economic environment, we must first protect our jobs. BizFed supports Proposition 23 as a sensible postponement of implementation of AB32, the far-reaching climate-change legislation.
David Fleming is BizFed founding chair, Thomas Flintoft is BizFed chair and Tracy Rafter is BizFed CEO.