First, Do No Harm

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

This morning, CalChamber is releasing our 201l list of Job Killer legislation. This year’s list features 28 bills that, if signed into law, would increase costs for employers, lead to more regulations and litigation, and create further barriers to investment for companies hoping to do business here and to hire California workers. It is important to note that the first step in an economic recovery program is to do no more harm to the economy. Yet, proponents of anti-business legislation are ignoring California’s obvious and painful economic situation. Apparently, they think California’s economy can withstand additional pressure from new regulatory and legislative burdens. They are simply unwilling to accept the unfortunate reality that California has the second highest unemployment rate in the country (even higher than Detroit’s!) and is currently ranked near the bottom when it comes to business climate.

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Schwarzenegger Did Good Things

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

Michael Hiltzik’s recent column dumps cold water on Governor Schwarzenegger’s administration primarily because the Governor properly refused to raise property taxes. The reality is that in the midst of immense challenges, Governor Schwarzenegger achieved good things. One of those was reforming California’s broken workers compensation system. For Hiltzik to say that Arnold’s historic reforms did not go far enough is like saying the San Francisco Giants won the World Series but they could have done better. I have worked with several previous Governors on workers comp reform and none came close to what Schwarzenegger was able to achieve.

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Job Killer Bill Is Back Door Approach to Card Check in California

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

One has to look no further than Senate Bill 1474 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento) to grasp why each year the California Chamber of Commerce finds it necessary to issue our annual "job killers" list of legislation that threatens our state’s business climate.

A notable bill on this year’s list is SB 1474, a dangerous proposal that does many things but, most importantly, seeks to expand unionization by creating a back door for "card check" in California.

Under a recently amended version of this bill that is awaiting action by the Governor, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) has the power to take a card signed by an employee with the purpose of merely holding an election and creating a certification for the union.  Employees sign authorization cards for a number of reasons including to call for an election, to stop a union organizer from continuing to pester them for their cards or because they were tricked by misrepresentation as to the consequence of signing a card.  Ultimately, under the process outlined in SB 1474, the ALRB can convert these signatures into a card check election without the employee’s knowledge.  The union never has to disclose to the employee that the result of their signature appearing on this card for another purpose ended up generating a vote for unionization.  This is unfair to the employee. 

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Renew California: CalChamber Economic Recovery and Job Creation Plan

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

The California Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of a broad,
non-partisan effort to rehabilitate the state’s image and improve the
climate for investment and job creation.

California will eventually
enjoy an economic recovery, but the strength and depth of our rebound –
and the fiscal health of state and local governments – will depend upon
making the state more competitive for job creation, new business
formation and new capital investment.

The five pillars of economic recovery are:

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Prop 16 – Taxpayers Right to Vote Act – will give voters the final say

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

You have no doubt already been made aware that at the state level, California is already burdened by record debt and we, again, face a 20 billion dollar annual deficit this year. At the local level, budgets are being slashed, with critical services from public safety to public works to parks being cut. The bottom line is: California’s state and local governments cannot make ends meet.

Yet, at the same time, some local leaders are working to have their communities commit hundreds of millions of public dollars or debt to push out privately run electricity businesses and get government into the retail electricity business. And, even in these tough economic times, they don’t want taxpayers to vote on it because current law does not require a vote.

Proposition 16 – the Taxpayers Right to Vote Act would simply require that voters have the final say if a local government chooses to spend public money or incur public debt to create a government-run electricity business. Like most other local special tax and bond decisions in California, a 2/3 vote would be required.

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Issues Critical to California’s Recovery are Focus of CalChamber2010.com

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

Perhaps never before has the economic health of our state been so important to voters as in this election season. Just last week, I announced the launch of CalChamber2010.com, a new website designed to educate voters about the candidates’ stance on issues critical to job growth and renewed prosperity in our state. Now, more than ever, voters understand the role that a vibrant economy plays in enhancing quality of life for California’s working families. I suspect that many more voters this year will be looking at the candidates’ track records to determine how they will cast their ballot.

We developed CalChamber2010.com to be the go-to site for information on California’s Gubernatorial candidates. This resource provides first-of-its-kind comparisons of the three candidates. The site doesn’t deal with social issues, rather it focuses on issues of critical importance to the state’s economy and job climate. CalChamber2010.com focuses on nine areas: Budget and Spending; Jobs and the Economy; Taxes; Education; Health Care; Environment and Energy; Water; Public Safety; and Housing and Transportation. By highlighting these issues that are so important to the voters, the candidates will need to make them their highest priority!

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New Tax on Hospitals Will Push Health Costs Higher

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

It’s hard to imagine a worse time to support a new tax on hospitals, but legislation being considered in the state Senate will do just that.

The proposed hospital tax in AB 1383 (Jones; D-Sacramento) is being portrayed by supporters as staving off budget cuts. In fact, this new tax will be passed through to patients with private health coverage or who pay out-of-pocket. The tax will not only hit Californians in the midst of the worst recession in six decades, but it will exacerbate already out-of-control health care costs.

Although some hospitals would be able to use the proceeds of the tax to leverage more federal funding, many others from throughout California would receive no benefit whatsoever, and would be forced to raise rates for private patients.

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How Public Policy Can Help Restore State’s Fiscal Health

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

With the California economy contracting and the state budget deficit increasing, the Governor has appropriately called for swift and decisive action. Our policy leaders must carefully examine which program reductions and which revenue-raising proposals hurt our economic recovery, and what new measures will stimulate productivity, employment and the creation of wealth for all Californians.

The California Chamber of Commerce has recently commented on some of the proposed tax increases, but our state’s fiscal health will never improve without a strong economy.

While the recession is global in reach, state public policy can make material improvements for California and, importantly, have an impact on how swiftly and strongly we will recover from this slowdown.

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