Brown in China—Building California and One Party Rule

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Did you catch the interesting comment at the end of David Siders’ report in the Sacramento Bee on Governor Brown’s China visit?

“At the dinner Tuesday night, Brown marveled at the pace of construction in China, a feat made possible at least in part by the country’s one-party rule. Brown suggested – however wistfully – that it is a lesson he could apply in California.”

Some argue that California now has one party rule with the Democrats holding supermajorities in both houses of the legislature and all the state’s constitutional offices. So what building projects would the governor pursue when he returns to California?

No question, the high-speed rail will be first on his list. One of his goals in China is undoubtedly to find investment support for California’s bullet train. The chips on the table to build the train belong to the state and federal government. But they are not enough. The private sector is supposed to kick in to help build the train but so far the private market has been hesitant. Additional revenue is a goal of the China trip.

Another place that Brown wants to build is his delta reformation plan and the twin tunnels. But this is where his “wistful” comment does not apply in the democratic west and he knows it. The sides of the debate over the tunnels and the water project are not about one political party but about regional sensibilities. Members of the governor’s party in California often differ on the approach to the water project depending on where they live.

Other building in California will depend on the market supporting such building, which means California must be open for business. The governor understands that. It is the stated reason for his trip. The number of business delegates he brought along emphasizes that reality.

Business investment from China and trade with the world’s second largest economy would certainly help boost California’s business climate. But much more is needed to be done right here to advance business. Reform of the tax code, reduction of regulations, and a fair dealing with health costs is the place to start.

In our society, as the governor well knows, one party doesn’t lay down the law to business. Business can get up and go if it doesn’t like the circumstances of doing business here.

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