This holiday season, Sacramento policymakers have little reason for good cheer. Deficit spending, high taxes and excessive regulations are the equivalent of a large lump of coal in politicians’ stockings.
The public gets it. Most Californians appropriately blame California’s leaders for our failure to act: the Governor’s approval rating has sunk to 27 percent while a record low 17 percent approve of the Legislature’s work.
Reforms are long overdue. Recent legislative hearings on improving California’s government are a good start—but mere talk isn’t enough. While political leaders talk, Californians continue to lose their jobs due to the decisions made in Sacramento.
If the economy feels worse in California than the rest of the nation, that’s because it is. Fifteen metro areas across the nation have unemployment rates of 15 percent or higher. Of these, an astounding nine are in California. The national unemployment rate of 10 percent is more than two points lower than California’s rate of 12.3 percent.
Bad decisions made in Sacramento in recent years help explain why California’s prospects for a timely economic recovery are considerably worse than other states. Those decisions also help to explain why California is the most difficult place in the nation for a business to make a profit.
California’s leaders deserve blame for all of the following and more:
Driving up the cost of housing through excessive land-use restrictions and other mandates.
Increasing California’s energy costs. According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration, California’s electricity rates now exceed the national average by a staggering 46 percent.
Fostering a legal environment where it is easier to become rich by filing a lawsuit than it is to run a business.
Enriching the pockets of public employees at the expense of priorities like education, infrastructure and public safety.
Creating large state bureaucracies and layers of red tape that strangle small businesses and warn job creators to steer clear of our state.
A recent Milken Institute study found that while other states gained jobs, California’s high taxes and “onerous regulatory climate” cost the state 476,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs. Those jobs would have spurred the creation of an estimated 1.17 million more jobs in other parts of our economy.
A number of other studies echo these findings, and one warns that 1.1 million additional job losses may result from California’s determination to be the nation’s guinea pig in the grand experiment of “global warming” regulations.
Sacramento decisions impact real lives. Just days before closing his Colton cement plant and laying off nearly 100 workers last month, CalPortland CEO James Repman provided some enlightening testimony before a Senate panel.
He shared that it is becoming increasingly difficult to conduct business in California “due to the myriad of regulations and agencies that oversee every aspect of [his] business.” He specified that a mind-boggling 67 federal, state and local agencies regulate his business.
Repman further testified that California’s pending global warming regulations were creating huge financial burdens for his company; as a result any future expansions would likely be in Nevada or Arizona rather than California.
California’s 2.3 million unemployed workers are hoping and praying for a job—any job. An additional 1.5 million people are underemployed—working part-time because they can’t find full-time work.
Even though these are difficult times, I still believe in California, and I know that the citizens I represent do as well.
I invite California’s leaders to join me. Let’s be the public servants we were elected to be and. Let’s roll up our sleeves, get to work, and give this state a truly Happy New Year.
We can start by identifying and suspending the many unnecessary laws and regulations that destroy jobs and drive up the cost of living for all Californians.
Mere talk isn’t enough. It’s time for action.