Toughest Business Year on Record

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Sept. 18, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Most observers agree that this legislative year was the most threatening for business and the economy since statehood. In California, where business has been getting the short end of the stick for years, that is really saying something.

* More than 50 job killer bills were introduced by the majority democrat legislators, up from 15 to 20 in a typical year. The Coalition for California Jobs did not even list all the tax and fee proposals on business prompted by the staggering state budget deficit.
* Republicans dug-in their heels, said “no new taxes”, and didn't use their 2/3 vote leverage on the budget to force a job creation agenda. CMTA had argued for substantial Workers' Compensation reform and restoration of the expiring Manufacturing Investment Credit as part of a budget deal.
* When the recall election qualified, the anti-business forces (trial lawyers, public sector unions, and environmentalists) ramped up the pressure to get bills passed this year in case a republican governor replaces Davis in October. Labor interests became even more powerful by funding the anti-recall effort.
* Governor Davis moved to shore up his democrat base, signaling his desire to sign some of the job killer bills, including SB 288 (Byron Sher, D-Stanford) New Source Review and SB 18 (John Burton, D-San Francisco) Sacred Sites. It was thereafter hard to get amendments or stop the bills to soften the blow on business.
* The national economy was in the pits. Democrat legislators don't believe that California is anti-competitive when all states have experienced job losses. California does not track the jobs going to Nevada, Utah or Texas. The majority of legislators did not listen to arguments that economic recovery depends on a healthy business climate, nor do they believe state policies affect the economy.

We had a little political wind at our backs – skyrocketing workers' compensation premiums created a firestorm of grassroots action from the districts, making legislators more sensitive to the concerns of small business, at least. The shakedown lawsuits under Section 17200 by the Trevor Law Group against minority-owned businesses embarrassed the trial attorneys and hurt their chances with legislators. Polls showed that citizens are concerned about California's faltering economy.

But it can't be denied that our success this year in amending or stopping many bad bills was overwhelmingly the result of nonstop, vigorous work by the hard-working CMTA staff and other business lobbyists in Sacramento. Uphill battles were won with solid policy arguments with hundreds of face to face meetings with legislators and grassroots activism. The list of 50 job killers was pared down to about a dozen that reached the Governor's desk, some significantly weakened by business-sponsored amendments.

Congratulations and thanks to the CMTA lobbyists and staff for a job well done!
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