Prioritizing Small Business

Justin Adams, Ph.D.
President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, LLC, a Davis-based economics research and analysis firm.

“Taxes on capital, taxes on labor, inflation, bureaucratic regulation, minimum wage laws, are all – to different degrees – unnecessary slices of the wedge that stand between an individual’s effort and reward for that effort.” – Jack Kemp

During Governor Newsom’s November 16th press conference, where he announced that he would pull the “emergency brake” in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and plunge almost all of California’s population back into the most restrictive tier, the Governor made a special effort to acknowledge the plight of small businesses. He explained that the coronavirus-wracked economy threatened the hopes, dreams and livelihoods of California’s entrepreneurs, and he pledged that the top priority of his January budget would be to “support our small businesses that are trying their best to weather this storm.”

This focus on supporting the state’s small businesses is much needed. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey (collected between November 9th and November 15th), 51.4 percent of California small businesses believe it will take more than 6 months before they return to their normal level of operations. Moreover, 2.3 percent of California small businesses have closed permanently while another 5.9 percent expect to permanently close in the next 6 months.

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CalChamber poll (Part 2): Voters crave sensible policies, no new taxes

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Yesterday  we reported that Californians are taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously, and expect their elected leaders to do the same. 

But the pandemic isn’t the only issue troubling Californians. The cost of living remains a profound concern.

When asked if their family would have a better future if they left California, a stunning 54 percent agreed – 27% strongly. Of those agreeing with this statement, two-thirds cited “cost of living” or “cost of housing” as the main reason, while another three in ten cited, “California values are not my values.”  

Demographically, voters who are most strongly agree that their future would be better if they left the state are middle-aged residents, Republicans and families with children living at home.  

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Talking Turkey about So-called Lawsuit Abuse

Brian Kabateck
Brian Kabateck is a past president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, the Los Angeles County Bar Association and is currently Board Chair of Loyola Law School as well as the managing partner of Kabateck LLP in Los Angeles. John and Brian occasionally host “KabaTalks,” a podcast discussing their views on California politics.

Around the Capitol and throughout California, people always ask us, “Exactly what is Thanksgiving dinner like for the Kabateck family?”  The answer to that question may lie in a closer look of the article published in this publication on Nov. 11 by my brother, John, entitled “In 2020, California lawmakers failed to protect Californians against lawsuit abuse.”

“Lawsuit Abuse” is a tired catch phrase used by the far right to define corporate protectionism. 

So most holiday gatherings, we enjoy robust discussions around our family about whether or not there really is such a thing as “lawsuit abuse.” I’m a trial lawyer, so I’m betting you can guess where I come down on the debate.

I am sure anyone who ever gets sued thinks they are the victim of “lawsuit abuse.”  First, we can all concede that there are “frivolous lawsuits.” It’s not just individuals who file “frivolous lawsuits.”  Big corporations love to play. Look no farther than Frito-Lay, which sued a smaller chip maker is 2013 saying it ripped off the shape of its Tostitos Scoops! tortilla chips. Frito’s lawsuit got crunched in federal courts in Texas. Back in 1998, Kellogg sued Exxon over the gas station giant’s whimsical tiger logo, saying it could be confused with Tony the Tiger. Tony and Kellogg lost as a federal court tossed their suit. 

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From Wildfires to Drought to Floods, Californians Seek Relief from Weather Whiplash – Farmers Can Help

Mike Wade
Executive Director, California Farm Water Coalition

Californians rightfully feel they are living at the epicenter of the globe’s changing weather patterns. Following a crushing 5-year drought, 2017 and 2019 brought torrential rain and flooding. And 2020 is already on record as the worst fire season in recorded California history.

The good news is that California farmers lead the nation in innovative, smart stewardship practices as well as new, science-backed solutions that will better protect our people and our environment.  Assisting in these efforts, farmers and other water users have spent over $800 million on scientific studies over the past decade, defining ways to adapt to our changing climate.

Expedite Voter-Approved Water Storage to Help Even Out Boom & Bust Water Cycles

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Business and Jobs Task Force Quits Ahead of Likely Additional Business and Job Closures

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

It is more than ironic that the governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery closed down just as businesses and workers face the prospect of more restrictions and closures with a surge of the coronavirus. The task force was introduced with great fanfare in April but ended with a press release on Friday, the typical news release day for government agencies that want to bury troubling news.

What did the task force, co-chaired by the governor’s chief-of-staff Ann O’Leary and billionaire Tom Steyer, do to help business and jobs recover from the pandemic? Read the co-chairs final 27-page report and they take credit for a number of conversations, thinking about problems and advocating plans that were in the works but no major initiatives to help bring jobs and the economy back. There was a lot of cheerleading for approaches already being pursued independent of the task force such as advocating for mask wearing or working with federal leaders to pursue relief in the form of stimulus funding.

Ask shuttered businesses, unemployed workers if the task force led to an economic recovery and they would likely respond in the negative.

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CalChamber poll (Part 1): Voters serious about addressing pandemic consequences

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Californians are taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously, and expect their elected leaders to do the same.

The sixth annual CalChamber poll, The People’s Voice, 2020, found that voters are keenly aware of the widespread effects of the pandemic. Nearly half of all voters have suffered an economic impact: reduced work hours, lost job, pay cut, or unpaid leave. More than six months after California first began shutting down its economy, nearly half of voters report their workplace is still not operating normally; instead, employers have reduced services, closed temporarily or permanently, or are operating online only. 

This perception extends to their communities. Nearly half of voters report “a lot of businesses” shut down in their communities, and nearly six in ten report “a lot of jobs lost.”  

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Enough Dead to Fill Forest Lawn

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

If you’re having a hard time processing the scale of death produced by the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a California alternative for wrapping your mind around the carnage: 

Visit the largest, prettiest cemetery you can find. I recommend the original Forest Lawn, in Glendale, the most Californian of cemeteries.

I recently walked the 290  acres of this memorial park, the first of six Forest Lawn parks in Southern California, and found that it clarified my thinking and improved my mood. 

The place also helped me to put in perspective the full human toll of COVID-19. Since Forest Lawn opened here 114 years ago, in 1906, it has interred 340,000 souls on this property. Under current projections, the U.S. will reach 340,000 COVID deaths in January.

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Revenue windfall creates political dilemma

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

As Gov. Gavin Newsom makes the final decisions on writing a 2021-22 budget, he’s receiving some good revenue news from his beancounters.

During the first four months of the 2020-21 budget cycle, which began on July 1, state general fund revenues were more than $11 billion higher than the apocalyptic estimates on which the budget was based. Moreover, the windfall could easily double to $26 billion in the first months of 2021, according to the Legislature’s budget analyst, Gabe Petek.

What happened?

The sharp recession triggered by Newsom’s COVID-19 business shutdowns has been very uneven, striking hard at Californians on the lower rungs of the economic ladder while affecting those on the upper rungs very softly, if at all.

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Major Issue Behind Prop 15 Ignored During Campaign

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

An expensive, high profile proposition campaign was played out over many months leading to the November election and nary a word was spoken by either side on one of the chief underlying reasons that the measure existed. In large part, Proposition 15, the business property tax increase, was about public employee pensions.

Pension costs are staggering and growing at a time when government revenues are diminished because of the pandemic. Cited in an extensive report on the local government pension issue in the Orange County Register was a summary of how deep the pension hole in the state is, depending how it is measured. Stated the Register article:

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Where California Stands with Women in the Legislature

Jennifer Paluch
Public Policy Institute of California Research Associate

California is poised to send more women representatives to the highest levels of federal government, with vice-president-elect Kamala Harris and the re-election to the House of speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Women have represented California in the US Senate since 1993 through Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Harris. And women hold leadership positions across state chambers—Toni Atkins serves as senate president pro tempore, while Shannon Grove and Marie Waldron are senate and assembly minority leaders. In light of these leadership trends, one might expect more women in our state house.

Before the November election, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus stood at an all-time high of 15 state senators and 23 assembly members. Although it is one of the largest caucuses in the nation, California is far from a national leader: at 38 of 120 members, women represent just 32% of state legislative offices. This November representation remains unchanged at 32%, despite the 71 female candidates running for office—or 16 in the senate and 55 in the assembly (senator Holly Mitchell will be transitioning to the LA County Board of Supervisors). While all elections are not finalized, the gender makeup of the California Legislature remains unchanged.

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