Los Angeles Business Journal

Budgeting at the Ballot Box

OP-ED: Gov. Jerry Brown should let voters have a say on five tax measures that could help save the Golden State. By MARIA de JESUS ROSAS and JORGE CORRALEJO Monday, April 25, 2011

As a result of Republican state legislators refusing to help solve the budget crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown may over the next few years have little or no opposition. But is it good for our state’s 4.2 million small businesses to have a one-party state, even if it appears to be a democracy? We are unaware of any nation with 40 million people that operates in the interest of small businesses when it has only one effective party.

California, more than any other state, has repudiated Republican candidates since 2008. This is not because Californians, including small-business owners, believe that the Democratic Party effectively advocates for our interests. In fact, until recently, a clear majority of small-business owners supported the Republican Party.

Only a few years ago, a vast majority of Californians recalled Democrat Gray Davis (chief of staff during Brown’s first two terms in office). After the recall, Californians overwhelmingly voted for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor. Even Latinos preferred him to a Latino candidate, former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

Brown, as the leader of what is now effectively a one-party state, will have an opportunity to lead without effective opposition. The question for the small-business community, the community that is responsible for creating 60 percent to 70 percent of new jobs in California, is whether the governor will use the excuses that many other Democratic governors in the past have used to thwart legitimate small-business expectations. Without effective Republican opposition, the governor is in a position to demonstrate that he is committed to the needs and aspirations of the small-business community.

With the defeat of Brown’s bipartisan efforts to have a June ballot measure that would continue Schwarzenegger’s tax increases, the governor’s most effective option is a simple one: He should design a November ballot measure, with significant small-business input, that will return California to its glorious golden days under his father, Gov. Edmund Brown, and Gov. Ronald Reagan. The ballot measure should not be limited to the inadequate Schwarzenegger tax increases that will solve only a small portion of our budgetary woes.

This November ballot measure should be revised to be the first modern and progressive tax system in California since the 1960s under Govs. Brown and Reagan.

Wide range

The ballot measure should be designed to provide for a wide range of tax changes that are pro-small business, including startups, and to ensure that our business community can secure qualified California workers for our increasingly complex jobs, rather than seeking foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. This includes having an excellent K-12 system and access to our public university system for all qualified students.

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