Right now, small business leaders like me are just trying to survive the twin crises of the past four months. We do understand the budget dilemma our state is now facing, but when the head of California’s Environmental Protection Agency recently said, “We are going to have to make hard decisions,” he was talking about making budget cuts, not about new proposals that would make it harder to own and operate a business in California. 

Our state legislature is pushing a proposal on the Governor that would raise energy costs for California’s small businesses and consumers, which is the last thing lawmakers should be proposing. Yet, here we are. Sacramento politicians are hiding language in the budget bill that would raise utility rates and hike gas prices as much as 10%. What’s worse: they’re justifying it by saying an environmental program that is uniformly successful should be used to spin off more revenue to fill the state’s coffers. Lawmakers are now treating the state’s successful Cap-and-Trade system like an ATM.  That’s just wrong. 

Cap-and-trade is California’s historic law designed to reduce our carbon footprint. And it’s working. We’re curbing emissions and reaching environmental goals well ahead of deadlines. Why mess with this important success?

Because politicians are anxious; they want to plug holes in the state budget caused by the COVID-19 recession and global economic downturn. They want more money and they want it fast, satisfying Wall Street financiers who are playing this market just as they do the stock market. Instead, what lawmakers should be doing is worrying about the small business owners on Main Streets all over California. 

Our lawmakers need to take decisive action to strengthen our economy. Don’t mess with environmental laws that are working. Don’t return to the old days where a strong economy and clean environment were pitted against each other. They’re not. We can do both. Cap-and-trade has proven it. Let’s focus on the hard work of balancing a budget.  Cuts will have to be made but not on the backs of small businesses, consumers, and taxpayers.

It’s been a tough few months.  But most of us remain hopeful.  As small business owners we’ve faced crises before. Many of us weathered the last recession and have adjusted to a new economy where shopping online has changed our world.  We’ll make it if you help, not hurt. Please reject this ill-conceived plan, Governor Newsom.

It’s time to remember what a cynical reporter once said, “There isn’t anything in the world that politicians can’t make worse…”