What Small Business Wants

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

With only a few weeks before the election, candidates are running like Usain Bolt to the November 4 finish. Campaigns are focusing on their messages to various constituencies as they try to lure voters to their side.

One key constituency that can’t be forgotten is America’s entrepreneurs. After all, the research shows that 95 percent of small business owners are registered to vote, and 84 percent usually do vote. With the advent of early voting in many states, this number may well increase, as it makes it easier for busy owners to vote when it’s convenient, not just when the polls are open.

The small business community, which includes entrepreneurs and their employees, comprise 43 percent of U.S. registered voters. On the largest single day of voting held so far this year, Super Tuesday, nearly 32 percent of voters were part of this group. These numbers prove that small business is a powerful, motivated group. And they want candidates to address the issues that matter to them.

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Time for a Real Solution to the Financial Crisis

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

OK – we get it. The financial bailout program, a.k.a the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, didn’t pass muster with our esteemed members of Congress this week. The President’s plan didn’t give our elected leaders – or most Americans – the confidence that it will get our nation’s financial house back in order. We understand. But, sadly, that still leaves us one more day in the red – and all the while, small business owners and our communities continue to suffer.

The many California small business owners that I have spoken to – and countless others throughout the nation – aren’t half as worried about Wall Street as they are about Main Street. They’re extremely angry and frustrated with what has taken place – and they have every right to be. After all, small business men and women – and the people they employ – did not create the financial mess on Wall Street.

While small business owners were doing what they do best – turning ideas into entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs and economic development for their communities -scores of greedy, negligent CEOs within the financial community were taking reckless risks and benefiting financially.

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More Taxes Are Not The Answer

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Small business has been watching the budget debate for the past 70 plus days – just like everyone else. The big difference is that time and time again, they are the ones in the cross hairs of our legislative leaders.

Some were surprised that Cal-Tax supported the Governor’s current budget plan, including a tax increase. The reality is that the majority of Cal-Tax members are larger corporations that can easily absorb the cost of any new tax. It is disappointing that they chose to support an onerous new cost to California’s largest job creator, small and independent business.

The small businesses that the National Federation of Independent Business represents don’t adjust as easily to new taxes. They face consequences that the big guys don’t – laying off workers, cutting benefits, increasing prices or closing their doors forever. But beyond that, time and time again when polled, NFIB members stand firm in their chorus of no more taxes. California is one of the worst places to do business in the country – why would our state leaders want to add to an already heavy tax burden?

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Upping commercial property taxes could stick it to small businesses

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

As I travel throughout California discussing small-business issues with
business owners and operators, a familiar idiom continues to ring inside my
head: You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.

It must be because that’s just what it feels like some folks are trying to
do to California small businesses and consumers.

As Proposition 13’s 30th anniversary came and went in June—and poll after
poll showed that voters would still support the much-needed tax reform
measure today—some tax “reform” advocates have continued to raise the
specter of commercial property tax increases as a way to dig us out of
California’s budget abyss. What more do they think they can wring out of us?

Proponents try to position commercial property tax increases as “sticking
it” to big business. Not only is their assumption that California businesses
do not already pay their fair share of taxes patently false, they also fail
to acknowledge that increased property taxes will actually be “sticking it”
the most to small businesses, consumers, seniors and renters.

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Rolling Up The Welcome Mat for Small Business in California

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News told the story of the competition between several California cities to land a lucrative deal with Tesla Motors. The car manufacturer is looking at several potential Northern California sites for a new factory. As expected, these cities are pulling out the stops to woo Tesla to town – and the estimated 1,000 jobs they could bring with them. The state has already given Tesla a huge sales tax break and the locals will take it to a new level with promises of more incentives and flexibility. It makes one wonder – how much better would it be if California created a positive business environment that did not require big financial give-aways.

California has a reputation of being one of the worst – if not the worst – states for small businesses. Businesses – small and large – are continually confronted with a barrage of mandates day after day. Case in point – last year’s mandated healthcare plan proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger, but defeated in the legislature. AB1X included the largest single tax increase in California history – as high as 6.5 percent, to fund a government-run healthcare pool.

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Small Business Escapes Another Mandate – For Now

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated Assembly Bill 2716, deciding against imposing yet another costly, unnecessary mandate on California small businesses – for now. AB 2716 would have mandated that employers provide workers with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of paid work. In smaller businesses, employees would have been allowed to take up to 40 hours or five days of leave in each calendar year, and all other workers would have been able to take up to 72 hours or nine days of leave per year.

A study released in June by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation showed the loss of approximately 370,000 jobs within five years in California had AB 2716 become law. In addition to significant job losses, the bill imposed a direct cost, just like a tax, of $4.6 billion on California employers that would have disproportionately affected small businesses.

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It’s a Start, but Small Businesses Need to Hear More

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

When Senator John McCain delivered the keynote address at the National Federation of Independent Business 2008 National Small Business Summit last month, he did much more than speak to several hundred interested small business owners. He pushed the concerns of a significant voting bloc to the forefront of the presidential campaigns. In fact, both Senators McCain and Barack Obama have spent much time specifically addressing the number one issue among small businesses—healthcare. And it’s about time.

Recognizing that healthcare costs have become unmanageable for many entrepreneurs, Senator McCain said, if elected, his administration would introduce healthcare reform that would provide hardworking Americans more options and expand portability of coverage.

Senator Obama, who was invited to speak at the summit but did not attend, responded to Senator McCain’s remarks by reiterating that small businesses need more options to access quality, affordable healthcare coverage. We also know both candidates recognize that implementing health information technology and addressing an inequitable tax structure should play a part in any comprehensive reform package.

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Rising fuel and energy costs are hurting California’s small businesses

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Soaring fuel and energy costs rank second only to the cost of healthcare among the problems facing small business owners, according to one of several surveys by the National Federation of Independent Business, California’s leading small business association. According to NFIB’s recently-released Small Business Problems and Priorities survey, 42.3 percent of the small business owners nationwide rank the cost of natural gas, propane, gasoline, diesel and fuel oil as a “critical” concern. That’s up from 26.1 percent on the previous survey, conducted in 2004. Both surveys rank the cost of health insurance as the number one issue facing small business owners.

Details of the most recent Small Business Problems and Priorities survey, sponsored by Wells Fargo, are available here. For information on the 2004 survey, click here.

The National Federation of Independent Business represents small businesses in a wide range of industries that are being hurt by higher fuel prices. In addition to the Problems and Priorities survey, the NFIB Research Foundation has published two other national polls – Energy Consumption and Adjusting to Cost Increases — which are available on NFIB’s small business information Web site, www.411sbfacts.com.

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Mandatory Sick Leave Bill Leaves 370,000 Californians Jobless

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Today, NFIB Research Foundation released a study that shows the paid sick leave mandate proposed in AB 2716 by Assembly Member Fiona Ma would result in the loss of 370,000 California jobs over the next five years. AB 2716 will force all employers to provide paid sick leave for all employees regardless of whether or not employers can afford to pay for it.

How much will paid sick leave cost California businesses? According to the Research Foundation study, $4.6 billion and will disproportionately affect small businesses in California. What is worse is that these businesses will have less money to pay for the mandated benefit as the new law would cost California firms an estimated $59.3 billion in sales over the first five years of enactment, and more than half of that will be losses to small businesses.

One question comes to mind: Is this really the time to pile additional mandates on the job creators of California? The Legislature is currently trying to find a solution to California’s massive deficit – at last count, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 or $17 billion. Now is the time our leaders should be looking at ways to stimulate the growth of small businesses in California by allowing them to do what they do best – create jobs and employ people in the communities where they live.

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2008 National Small Business Summit Highlights Contributions of Small Business Entrepreneurs

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

This past week, the national spotlight was on the impact small businesses have on America. Small business entrepreneurs are the backbone of the American economy and create tens of thousands of jobs every year in America.

I had the opportunity to attend the 2008 National Small Business Summit in Washington D.C. this week and saw, first–hand, the dedication and commitment of small business owners to having their voice heard by policymakers. The organizers brought together a wide range of speakers to give our members an opportunity to hear about economics, politics and other issues that small business owners care about.

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