Putting Jobs First Makes Economic and Common Sense

by Jack Stewart
July 1, 2003
The revised budget recently signed by Governor Davis reveals that California still faces a staggering multi- billion budget deficit next year. Economic and common sense suggest that the only way to dig the state out of this budget hole is to improve California’s economy. Unfortunately, the Legislature is considering numerous proposals that will eliminate jobs by imposing new fees, taxes and mandates on California employers.

Dozens of bills that propose new fees and taxes on California’s businesses are currently being considered by the Legislature– a clear indication that legislators believe the burden of the budget deficit should be placed primarily on the backs of businesses large and small. The price tag of all anti-business bills introduced this year is nearly $65 billion, according to the California Taxpayers Association.

Other burdensome measures being considered include healthcare mandates, legislation to make it easier to file frivolous lawsuits against employers, and costly and unnecessary new regulations— taken together will cost billions more. These new proposed costs would be piled on top of huge increases in the cost of doing business in the state brought on by our broken workers’ compensation system and a new paid family leave law unique to California, among other issues. This year alone, workers’ comp costs are expected to reach $20 billion for California employers—a problem our lawmakers must address immediately.

When the California Employment Development Department released its July, 2003 employment report on August 8, we learned that California lost another 21,800 jobs during the month of July, sending payrolls to their lowest level since the state's economy began its long decline.

Among the jobs lost in July were 6,500 manufacturing jobs, bringing the total manufacturing jobs lost since January 2001 to 299,500 or 16 percent of our industrial work force. Imposing taxes, fees and new burdens to business and an economy that has already shed hundreds of thousands of high-wage manufacturing jobs is simply irresponsible. Employers unable to raise prices or absorb new costs have hard choices: go out of business, relocate out of California, lay off employees, reduce benefits or reduce wages.

So who will really pay the price when the Legislature enacts these new taxes, fees and other burdens for California businesses? Employees and their families. Soon all Californians will feel the impact of decreased economic activity and lower tax revenues in the form of strained and reduced services such as healthcare, police and fire protection, and education.

California’s world-class cities and universities, diverse and skilled workforce, and the access our state offers to multiple airports and seaports are just a few of the reasons businesses of all sizes have chosen to locate here. Economic stimulation for California’s job climate will put us on the road to economic recovery – and job creation for all of California’s working families.

California’s economy will never improve with the course currently considered by our legislators -- imposing new burdens that cost California jobs. The California business community is taking a stand for our employees, the economy and jobs. We are calling upon every legislator to consider carefully the disastrous ramifications of legislative proposals that call for burdensome fees, taxes and mandates that will cost California jobs.

As they consider each piece of legislation, lawmakers must ask themselves “does this proposal put jobs first?” If a legislative proposal does not put jobs first and help to revive our stagnant economy by improving the job climate for California’s working families, legislators must reject it.

A healthy California economy is essential to solving our state’s current fiscal crisis. A hearty economy will only be achieved when California’s leaders get serious about reducing the burdens on employers – such as controlling workers’ comp costs for California’s small businesses or the extension of the manufacturer’s investment credit, among others. Now is the time for our elected representatives to put California jobs first. We urge California employers and workers to become part of our effort and join the Jobs 1st campaign organized by the Coalition for California Jobs (CCJ). The CCJ Jobs 1st effort plans to do more than just urge legislators to cast pro-jobs votes. We intend to watch them closely and highlight to their constituents their votes on both ‘job killer’ and ‘job creator’ legislation. We believe the time has come to hold these legislators accountable for their impact on California’s job climate. We must stop these ‘job killer’ proposals and encourage our legislators to start enacting ‘job creators’ – or risk further harm to our stagnant economy.

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