Opinion: Small Business Wish List for 2011

As 2010 draws to a close, it seems fitting to reflect on the past year and ask the question – are small business owners better off than they were in January?  The answer may be mixed, but certainly there were several successes.

With the passage of Proposition 20, fair districts for congressional representatives that give voters the power to choose their representatives rather than the reverse is a reality.  Prop. 20 will help us hold all of our politicians accountable and make it easier to vote them out when they don’t do their jobs. Prop 20 will extend voter-approved election reforms so that an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, instead of Sacramento politicians, will draw congressional districts.  This was a huge victory for small business – allowing for more small business owners themselves to run for office.

Small business was also successful in passing Proposition 26, which would protect the people’s right to vote on local taxes. With increasing frequency, state and local governments disguise taxes as “fees” to avoid either a two-thirds vote at the state level or a vote of the people at the local level, both of which are required to approve taxes under the state Constitution. Prop. 26 closed this loophole by clarifying the definition of taxes and fees to stop politicians from imposing “hidden taxes” with majority-vote fees to justify their out-of-control spending.

And while some of the news was good on Nov. 2nd, several challenges remain as we look ahead.  With that in mind, small business has a few requests on their Wish List for 2011:
First, small employers want our elected officials to understand the economic impact of regulations on small businesses prior to the imposition of new regulatory mandates.  A simple cost-benefit analysis shouldn’t be a problem for those who claim that benefits of new regulations are the solution to our economic and environmental woes.  Doctors take the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm,” the least our legislators can do is ensure they aren’t harming the very small businesses we rely upon to create jobs.  And for those regulations already in place, Gov.-elect Brown and legislators should be looking at ways to reduce the burden while maintaining critical labor and environmental protections.

Small business owners are encouraged by the words of Gov.-elect Brown in calling for the ongoing review of regulations to ensure that their costs do not outweigh their benefits and the creation of more flexible regulatory schemes.  Gov. Brown seems to understand what every small business owner lives each day, “Excessive regulations can get in the way of job creation and retention.”

Second, small business owners want responsible budgeting without new taxes.  More than any other group in California, small business owners understand that in tough economic times, tough decisions need to be made.  Cutting spending, prioritizing expenses and not spending more than you bring in are all realities that they live with every day.  It is time that those in the state Capitol learn to do the same.  And here’s a secret we can let you all in on … raising taxes is the wrong answer.

Finally, NFIB/CA members want to work with Gov.-elect Brown to help move California forward toward economic recovery and job creation.  Burdensome and overreaching regulations get in the way, tax increases drain critical funds, and a hostile attitude (actions speak louder than words) toward small business discourages job creation.  Gov. Brown has an opportunity to continue the progress of Gov. Schwarzenegger by protecting worker’s compensation reform and vetoing the anti-small business legislation that will likely flood his desk come September.  

At the end of the day, small business owners want and deserve an environment in which they can grow and succeed based on their own effort and talent rather than have to close their doors because of a hostile business environment created by government.  What small business owners are looking for are increased sales and a confidence that California will be a better place to grow or start a business.  And wouldn’t that be a perfect gift for them in 2011?

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