Is it any wonder the average citizen doesn’t trust the government? Countless times, the public has been the victim of broken promises, delaying tactics, misinformation and frequent excuses. No, I’m not referring to elections and current candidates, I’m talking about a whole county being taken advantage of by our federal and state officials.
Recently, I received a very humbling honor. I’ve been appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to be on the newly revitalized California Small Business Board. While I’m thrilled to be participating in helping to advise the governor at such a high level and on such important matters, it’s a little scary at the same time. Two of my responsibilities as a board member will be to (as taken from the California Corporations Code Section regarding this board and its functions) “help serve as legislative advocate and ombudsman for the state’s small business community…and to advise the governor, the director and the small business advocate regarding issues and programs affecting California’s small business community, including, but not limited to, business innovation and expansion, export financing, state procurement, management and technical assistance, venture capital, and financial assistance.” Sounds like it will be a challenging and interesting experience.
Six years ago, in a discussion about what to do with the state’s budget windfall (created by a booming tech industry), California Governor Gray Davis said, “We must resist the siren song of permanent spending.”
He should have tattooed that mantra on his arm. Unfortunately for California, Davis abandoned his logic and spent the aforementioned windfall in the most harmful way possible—on recurring expenses. Davis and the legislature approved countless new programs we could afford that year (due to the one-time surplus) but not the next. The result was a structural deficit that we’re still paying for today.
Whether you believe our current governor is a good one or not, the need for reforms and changes in how our state is operating is obvious. We’ve managed to get the greatest state in the union into some major financial and structural problems that must be addressed soon or the “great” state will become the “late” state. How did this happen? Well, in my personal view, I think we can lay the blame on three things—partisanship, out of control public employee unionism and too many entitlements. Here’s what I mean.
The scenario: Big Business knocks on the Chamber of Commerce door. The Chamber of Commerce rolls out the red carpet and strikes up the band! It's a scene from a 1930's musical dollar signs flashing, happy townsfolk break into a spontaneous chorus line, singing, "We're in the money."
If only it were so easy!
The fall in Napa is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful times to enjoy the Valley. In a short period of time one can travel temptingly close to row upon row of fruit-laden vines, watch the labor intensive harvest and experience the thrill of crush–all in anticipation of another banner year of premium, world famous wines. In this magical place we can truly see the "reap what you sow" take place and know that our future is intricately linked to the events of the recent past. Unfortunately, they are now beginning to understand that this state is beginning to reap what they have been sowing for the past several years and it's not a bumper crop of optimism or boom times.
On paper, the Governor's budget proposal to eliminate the entire state Division of Tourism appears to save $7.5 million. In reality, however, this cut will result in an even larger deficit in the state treasury.
Each dollar spent on tourism advertising brings more dollars directly into the state treasury according to a study conducted for the joint venture. A study of the 2001 advertising campaign, as reported on the division's website, showed the investment in tourism advertising "generated an estimated $6.88 in taxes for each $1 spent, or a total of $91 million in state taxes."
While business owners struggle with the state's lagging economy, our legislators are in partisan paralysis, taunting each other from their party soapboxes with the standby mantras of "Raise taxes! Decrease spending!" There seems to be little incentive for the parties to work together, despite the voters' desire that they do so. A few legislators from both parties have come together to try to reach a budget compromise. Although they are showing true leadership in attempting to reach an agreement, they are being ostracized by many of their own party members.Thanks to anti-business legislation, California is now the worst state in the country in which to do business. We also win the prize for the highest workers' comp costs in the nation.
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