Describing himself as the “Future ex-Lt. Governor” who “didn’t care” what reaction his positions engendered from the top down – yes, he was referring to the governor — Gavin Newsom, told the Small Business Day audience on Monday that if he were in charge he would cut 30-40 state programs the first six months in office and an equal number the next six months.
The Lt. Governor said the way to reinvigorate the state was to solve problems not to pass programs. As an example, he said with the recent restructuring of the state’s business program, Go Biz, 37 programs in the state deal with economic development and work force strategy. While Go Biz may be a fine idea, Newsom said, instead of just adding one more agency, other agencies doing similar work should be closed down.
Newsom focused his concerns on California’s withered economic record. From 1950 to 1980, he said, California was the “tent pole” at the center of the national economy with 3.7% job growth annually, well ahead of the 2.2% national average. Over the last three decades, California has fallen from leader to just average with a 1.1% job growth rate with the rest of the country’s job growth increasing faster than California.
Newsom blamed the bitter politics of Sacramento for the lack of progress in improving the state. It’s “worse than you think,” he told the small business owners. You can’t take pictures with members of the opposing party without seeing repercussions.
He reminisced about a trip he took to Texas to learn about the Lone Star state’s business record. Fifteen Republicans and one Democrat – “That’s how we define bipartisanship in California.” He said he is still paying a political price for making the journey.
Newsom’s main concern was boosting the California economy. While lamenting that California has closed its overseas trade offices, he pointed to the job hunting trips the governors of Colorado and Texas have recently made to California; Utah’s full time chamber of commerce set up in the Golden State, and the City of Austin, Texas’ office in Southern California. “These guys are in the game,” he said.
Discussing a formula to reinvigorate the state’s economy, the Lt Gov focused on education, infrastructure, immigration policy over visas for high tech workers, research & development and CEO decision making.
Newsom has produced a paper with suggestions to improve California’s economic agenda, which can be found here.