Today, 2 million Californians are unemployed; 843,000 more than one year ago. To overcome our current economic crisis, Sacramento lawmakers must do more than balance the budget; they must develop a new commitment to job creation and business growth. If we fail to grow new jobs in California, we will be plagued with a never-ending budget crisis.
The private sector is where this economic crisis hit first, and it’s also where our recovery must begin. Over the past few weeks, we have heard nonstop about how budget cuts will impact state services and workers in state government—both very important issues. But we have heard very little about the need to put 2 million private sector employees back to work.
Chief Executive Magazine recently released its 2009 “Best and Worst States” report. In it, they asked 543 CEOs to grade all fifty states on criteria including taxation and regulation, workforce quality and quality of life. California ranked dead last. One survey respondent summed it up this way: “Michigan and California literally need to do a 180 if they are ever to become competitive again. California has huge advantages with its size, quality of workforce, particularly in high tech, as well as the quality of life and climate advantages of the state. However, it is an absolute regulatory and tax disaster.”
The L.A. Area Chamber is leading our annual advocacy trip—Access Sacramento—later this week where we will be pressing lawmakers to focus on the basics of economic development in order to Recover, Reform & Rebuild our state. At the top of our agenda is pushing for a full, independent evaluation of the state’s business taxes, environmental regulations and labor laws, the legislation that most often puts California at a distinct disadvantage when compared to other states.
Most importantly, we are asking lawmakers to place a top priority on job creation and to think differently about how they approach legislation that impacts business and the new jobs and new tax revenue that comes with business growth.
Sunshine and diversity alone cannot sustain our state. It’s time for us to get back to the basics of economic development. There are at least 2 million reasons for lawmakers to do so immediately.
And that’s The Business Perspective.
The Business Perspective is a weekly opinion blog piece by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Samuel Garrison, Vice President of Public Policy.