At the California Retailers Association, we believe the first step to economic recovery is creating a positive environment for businesses. In this economic crisis, we need our legislators to focus on ways to encourage businesses to move to California and to expand and grow in this state.

Today legislation by Senator Juan Vargas (Senate Bill 469) will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee that will severely hamper businesses that generate thousands of jobs across the state. This legislation is bad for our state and bad for business.

First, our state is facing a massive fiscal crisis with an over 12 percent unemployment rate and an estimated $24.5 billion deficit. So we all need to be working together to create economic opportunity and new jobs which will then lead to increased revenues for the state. We do not need legislation that will actually discourage businesses from expanding in our state and adding jobs. Just one new large store opening leads to hundreds of local jobs and more sales tax revenues. That’s exactly what our state needs right now.

Second, our state has too many underserved communities that have limited options to access healthy food. And the way to create more grocery options is to create more grocery stores. We don’t need legislation that will make it even more difficult for underserved communities across California to have access to fresh food and grocery options for their families.

Next, our state needs to trust its communities. Why would the state government want to tell San Diego or any other California community which stores it can have and where? That’s an issue for the local community, not the State Capitol. Local communities have extensive public input processes in place and they should not have to add another layer of bureaucracy that Sacramento dictates. We need to all work together to balance the budget and create economic growth for our state rather than trying to shut down new stores and new jobs.

At the California Retailers Association, we believe our state needs more economic growth, not less. And we believe we need our state leaders to do everything possible to encourage new development.

Simply put, there is nothing to fear and everything to gain by allowing cities to decide which stores they want to open in their communities. We can’t regulate our way out of the recession and we can’t legislate our way to prosperity. We have to build a conducive economic climate where private industry can open new stores and hire new employees.

Right now, our state is facing an economic challenge unlike anything it has seen in years. We have too many people not working and too few revenues coming into the state government. Senator Vargas’ legislation will actually further harm job development and further depresses additional revenues to help balance the budget.

The good news is that there is a simple solution to both problems: find ways to grow the economy. At the California Retailers Association, we believe that’s not only the best solution for our state, but the only solution. And one of the surest ways to create economic growth is to promote the creation of new stores across the state.

The last thing we need is SB 469 which will only further delay our economic recovery.

The question is simple: do we want to help grow the economy or make it more difficult? In these challenging economic times in California, we can’t afford to make it more difficult. Let’s work together. Let’s create new jobs. Let’s welcome as much new economic development as possible. Let’s turn the economy around in California.