Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro

NPR interview masks an engaged business community

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on June 10, 2011

On Friday, NPR's California affiliate, Capitol Public Radio, interviewed Jack Robinson, an editor from the Sacramento Business Journal, regarding California's budget situation. 

Robinson was asked if he knew of any bills that California businesses supported in the state Legislature.  Robinson responded with one, AB 333, a bill to delay the implementation of a costly cap-and-trade carbon program.  While very important and sensible legislation, this bill is surrounded by hyperbole that generates visceral responses among the electorate.  Basically it sells.  Not one other common sense bill was mentioned.

We don't fault Robinson or NPR.  Radio interviews are short and we don't expect Robinson to be able to regurgitate the entire California business agenda on the fly.  But the result of this interview with most listeners will be: California business is uninterested in the common good because it doesn't support sensible legislation, and it only works to defeat any bill with a cost.

This is exactly the reason California has ranked dead last for seven straight years among CEO's for places to grow a business, and now ranks among the worst in new manufacturing growth.  Employers are presented as irrational obstructionists.  This makes it easy to pass costly legislation without any cost benefit analysis, creating an unpredictable and uncompetitive place to invest in new growth.

California's Capitol processes approximately 2,000 bills every legislative session.   The only reason the average voter hears about "job-killers" so much is because the rational, often much less exciting bills that employers support barely ever make it past the first committee hearing.   Try calling a reporter on a regulatory process reform bill in its first hearing.  Crickets.

For example there were 20 sensible business-supported regulatory process reform bills that all died quickly over the past two years (to name a few: SB 400, SB 396, SB 560, SB 688, SB 14, AB 535 in 2011 and you'll find a bunch in this document supported by more than 375 companies in 2010).   These were simple bills that, in a nutshell, only asked for more information and cost-benefit analysis on regulations.  How is it possible that these aren't getting any traction, especially with the regulatory awakening across the country?

With high costs and unpredictability in California, businesses are fighting even more for good legislation that helps our economy grow.  The problem is, most of those bills are boring, not the type of stuff that gets you to turn up your radio.  The California media needs to make sure employers are represented for what they are: partners in a better, more employed California.


*** CORRECTION:  Previously, this blog stated that "NPR's Morning Edition" -- a series on NPR's national network -- aired the interview.  It was not.  It was NPR's California affiliate Capitol Public Radio that conducted and aired the piece. 

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