In December, Victor Davis Hanson wrote a piece on the Two Californias, with important insights into the decline of the (once-)Golden State. The title reminded me of the two (big) problems elected officials in Sacramento need to confront if they want to restore the state’s luster, the state government’s spendthrift ways and its anti-business regulatory and tax system.
To his credit, Governor Jerry Brown is addressing the first problem, but seems, alas, oblivious to the second. Blogging at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin points out that the Democrat is attacking the state’s spending problem head on. She doesn’t, to be sure, agree entirely with how he proposes to close the gap, but commends him for at least taking on the task. While she “would strenuously dispute the notion that California lacks for revenue,” she does note that Brown is at least “is making an effort to address his state’s economic woes and is largely focused on spending reduction.”
Although aware of the state’s fiscal problem, Brown appears clueless as to the state’s business problem. With unemployment at or above 12% for over a year and businesses fleeing the state or seeking to expand in other jurisdictions, the government needs to take action to reduce the regulatory burden on job-generating private enterprises. Instead, Brown is committed to doing just the opposite.
As Hugh Hewitt reminded us on Monday in the Washington Examiner, Brown “will superintend” the writing of state rules that will impose additional burdens on companies seeking to bring products to market. He is an outspoken advocate of the state’s draconian (in the eyes of industry) environmental policies. Instead of cutting them back, he was, as state attorney general, ever eager to see them enforced.
With these and other state laws zealously enforced (instead of quickly repealed), Hugh sees a growing exodus of job creators:
With taxes already sky-high and the regulatory environment among the worst in the nation, some manufacturers will simply join the exodus of job creators to Texas and elsewhere. But the long arm of California’s regulatory zealots won’t let them go at the state border — not if their products are going to circulate in the Golden State.
For a state with 12 percent unemployment, the zeal for new job-killing laws and rules seems insane, but proponents have told themselves the new dictates are “technology-forcing” and thus job creators.
Kudos to Brown for his willingness to cut the state’s budget. It’s unfortunate, however, that he is even considering tax hikes, policies which would do the opposite of what he needs to do to face the state’s second problem.
Instead of seeking to strengthen the state’s hand in the marketplace, state officials should be working to reduce its meddling. And then, the Golden State would begin to regain its luster.