Whitman: Key to California’s future is job creation

(Editor’s Note: Capitol Weekly asked gubernatorial contenders Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman to submit commentaries on the outlook for Republicans on the eve of the state convention. Poizner provided a piece. Whitman asked Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to write a piece on her behalf.)

The recent news out of California has ranged from bad to worse.  We have a housing collapse, skyrocketing unemployment, and desperate budget shortfalls dominating the headlines.  While there are no doubt great challenges today, I remain steadfastly optimistic about California’s future.   Where there is crisis, there is opportunity, and we are entering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape California and start building the framework for a revitalized state.  But to accomplish our goals, we will need a strong leader with vision, experience, and the ability to make real change.  I believe former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is that person and the best one to lead our state as Governor.

California dominated the 20th century economic landscape through first-class schools, outstanding infrastructure, responsible governance, and a business climate that welcomed established companies and innovative entrepreneurs.  It was an unbeatable combination for California, and it’s no accident that Hollywood, aerospace, technology, and biotechnology flourished in the Golden State.  

But for years now, that California has slipped away.  We’ve been abandoning what made us great and relying too much on our legacy achievements.  Now our schools and roads are among the worst in the nation.  Our once-friendly economic climate has disappeared behind a cloud of regulations and costs that choke innovation and make it far too difficult for jobs to be created in our state.

That’s why it’s clearly time for Meg Whitman as Governor.  With so many Californians without jobs, it makes sense to have one of the greatest job creators in history at the helm.  At eBay, Meg turned a 30-person start-up into a 15,000-employee global powerhouse in just a decade.  I can’t wait to see what she can do for California.  

She didn’t legislate those jobs into existence.  They weren’t subsidized or bought with bailout money. These are real, sustainable, private-sector jobs.  She competed in the marketplace to give customers the best service at the best price.  She navigated California’s thick bureaucracy, and out-thought and out-fought competitors large and small to keep the company growing.

The story of eBay is one of incredible success and now serves as invaluable experience.  Meg knows better than anyone we need to clear out the bureaucratic underbrush that stops so much business growth here today.  She understands that small businesses, which create about 97-percent of the new jobs in this state, are being buried under a bewildering and ever-expanding regimen of licensing, fees, levies, assessments, and permits, before they even get started.  

California’s business climate needs a makeover, and from day one, Meg Whitman will have a clear agenda for bringing jobs and prosperity back to this state.  It will start with tax policy that helps people keep more of what they earn.   Simply put, lower taxes will provide the strongest possible incentive for businesses to expand, invest, and hire more workers in our state.     

We must also show spending restraint and prioritize the needs of California.  The budget that has grown 45-percent over past five years must be reined in.  The $42 billion deficit we are wrestling with now would have been avoidable or at least much smaller with structural reform and spending discipline.   

There was a saying at eBay, “spend every dollar like it’s your own.”  That’s why CEO Whitman sat in a cubicle like the rest of eBay’s employees, and that’s exactly the mindset we need from a Governor right now.  The money the state takes in and spends is not the state’s money—it belongs to the people of California and Meg Whitman will make sure the state will “spend every dollar like it’s your own.”

We owe it to the people to change Sacramento, and make government more efficient, more effective, more transparent and more accountable.  This means a line-by-line re-examination of government, a way to measure success and ensure results from every program, and the will to cut spending when we are not getting the results the people deserve.  

These changes by themselves would go a long way towards restoring a booming California economy.  They would send the right message to taxpayers and businesses alike that our government is committed to their success.

Legislative Republicans are committed to these principles of leaner more effective government and more economic expansion, but to accomplish our goals in 2010 and beyond we will need a Governor who understands that a thriving business sector will be the foundation for the California renewal.  

Meg Whitman understands this, not just in words, but in actions.  That is why I am proud to support Meg Whitman for Governor.

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