As the year comes to a close, it is time to pause and reflect on what we would like for the upcoming year. In the past, the business community has taken big economic hits with egregious regulations and we continue to hope that changes are ahead. For the New Year (provided the Mayan prediction is wrong), the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) would like to challenge our elected officials, both local and statewide, to shape-up and make the real changes that will solve the economic crisis and put our state and region back on track. VICA is proposing a holiday “wish list” from the San Fernando Valley business community that puts the proverbial ball in the court of our lawmakers. 1. Elected officials will put the good of the city and state ahead of their own desires for power and fix the real problems at hand. This wish should be a no brainer. Every elected official goes into office telling their constituents that they want to “rebuild” or make changes for the “good” of their community. For nearly all of these newly elected officials, however, this does not hold true. Angelenos have seen this behavior time and again—City Council members proposing ordinances and regulations that are blatant power-grabs packaged as “environmental standards” or “neighborhood improvements.” For 2013 and beyond, VICA would like to see our elected officials, from City Council to Washington D.C. make good on their word and truly fix the problems that are affecting our region. Without reaching for political power and by making their constituents a priority over their own personal gain, our legislators can efficiently and effectively solve many of the problems we face. 2. The business community will be held in the same regard as unions. It is no secret that our government entities tend to favor unions, particularly those in the public sector, their direct employees and our supposed “public servants.” This was made very clear when the Los Angeles City Council voted for an exclusive franchise system for waste haulers throughout the city. Not only will this system cost businesses in Los Angeles significantly more for trash removal, but it will also force small, non-unionized waste haulers out of the city. Businesses are often treated with disdain; footing the bill for numerous regulations, onerous business taxes and held fiscally responsible for much of the environmental problems in the state and country. It is often forgotten by our elected officials that businesses are job creators and drivers of the economy. VICA encourages our lawmakers to hold our state’s businesses in the same regard as labor unions. By fostering business growth in California and Los Angeles and supporting the business community, our elected officials will finally be able to help put the economy back on the right track. Jobs will be created, and Los Angeles will become the sparkling city it once was. 3. Elimination of the L.A. City business tax. This cannot be stressed enough by VICA. The business tax in Los Angeles stifles economic growth. VICA has fought for reform of the business tax in the City of Los Angeles for over a decade. With the ongoing recession, it is imperative that the gross receipts tax be eliminated in order to boost business growth and economic development in the region. There has been some recent progress made toward eliminating the tax, however, there is still much more to be done. The City Council’s failure to act, rather than simply holding discussions and hearings, further delays the change the business community needs. At a time when businesses are struggling and unemployment remains high, the state is looking to local businesses to create jobs and pull the state out of the recession. This egregious gross receipts tax only hampers efforts toward recovery and makes it more difficult to create the jobs that are needed. It is the hope of VICA and the business community that our elected officials take these wishes to heart in 2013. What Los Angeles, California and the country all need is to dig out of this extended recession and get back to work. This will not happen until our lawmakers finally learn that punishing the business community simply will not allow for economic recovery. Rather than forcing small businesses out of the city (such as with the new waste hauler program), or demanding manufacturers invest in green technology while requiring they pay for greenhouse gas credits (as with the new and ill-advised cap-and-trade program), our elected officials can work with the business community to create a working economy. The Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) is a business advocacy organization based in Sherman Oaks that represents employers throughout the Los Angeles County region at the local, state and federal levels of government.