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Davis has epiphany on business

Jeff Ackerman
Jeff Ackerman, Publisher
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

For those still confused by the budgeting process, the thing to remember is this: Always try to keep your spending equal to your income.

Unfortunately, many in Sacramento still do not understand that fundamental principle, which is why nothing has been done to address California’s $34 billion (give or take a few billion) deficit.

The income part of the equation seems obvious. At least to those who have peeked at the books. California has operated on the premise that the best way to feed the poor is to rob from the rich. Kind of a Robin Hood approach to government.

The problem is, eventually you rely on a very small group to feed a very large group. During the dot-com boom, California had lots and lots of rich people who accounted for a very large chunk of the state’s income tax revenues. When the boom fizzled, so did California’s bank account. Someone failed to notice the risks of having 80 percent of income tax revenues coming from 10 percent of the taxpayers. They were so busy slurping down the water, they forgot to check the well.

Solution? Spread the taxes around. Don’t continue to rely completely on the wealthy to pay all of the bills. The math doesn’t work. Eventually the rich get poor, or they move to Utah or someplace that doesn’t rob them blind. You don’t get rich by being stupid. Generally speaking, of course.

Want more revenue? Get off the backs of business. California is the most regulated state in the nation. You want business to create jobs? Give them incentives, not penalties, to do so. It should be reasonable for the people who feed the trough to expect more from those who feed from it.

We’ve seen that on a local level. There’s been nothing but lip service given to the issue of affordable housing. How about we recognize that it’s time to take a closer look at the obstacles that keep builders from building affordable homes. No builder in his right mind wants to plop down $250,000 in permits and studies for an affordable housing project, just to eventually be told, “We can’t put our finger on it, but we just don’t like it. Sorry.”

Even Davis is starting to figure out that more business, not more government, will return California to economic prosperity. He must have had an epiphany; perhaps a ghost of deficits past visited him in the middle of the night. He sat upright and shouted, “Holy Commerce! I get it!!!”

In his State of the State speech (which was as stirring as Saddam’s “I dare-them-to-try-that-again” motivational speech to his troops), the governor-by-default hinted that socialism doesn’t make economic sense. Perhaps someone finally showed him a recent video tape from Russia.

“We need to do everything in our power to support small businesses, which employ more than half of all Californians,” Davis shouted, to the silent applause of the small business owners who were at home wondering how to cover the 39 percent increase in their worker’s compensation (even though reported workplace injuries are down statewide) and health insurance without laying off half of their employees.

“In my term, we will double the number of certified small businesses from 5,500 to 10,000,” Davis continued, without explaining that in order to get “certified,” a small business currently must file a $50,000 Environmental Impact Statement in triplicate and then jump through three flaming hoops into a giant tub of ice water. Davis said he would also ask his business regulation chief to “reject all regulations that unfairly impact small business” and “review existing regulations and identify changes that promote growth and new jobs.” That could take years. So many regulations, so little time.

If any of you business owners have any ideas along those lines, you may want to contact the governor’s office. You can get a 10-minute personal audience with the governor for as little as $999.99 these days. The price goes up significantly during election years. Four months ago, for example, Davis was charging $20,000 for a sleep-over at the Governor’s Mansion, and that didn’t even include towels or breakfast rolls.

A good start would be a complete review of California’s two dozen or so regulatory agencies that have gotten fatter than a bureaucrat in a boom economy. Collectively, those agencies have stolen almost every letter in the alphabet. The list of acronyms includes:

— ARB (Air Resources Board)

— DFG (Fish and Game)

— DFG&O (Fish, Game and Oil)

— RWQCB (short for water)

— TSCB (Toxic material)

— SLC (Lands Commission)

— P&R (Parks and Recreation)

— CC (Coastal Commission)

— PS (Pipeline Safety)

— CDOG&GR (Conservation, Division, Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources)

— CC (Coastal Cities, not to be confused with the Coastal Commission)

— CIHA (Channel Island Harbor Commission)

–PCD (Pollution Control District)

If those don’t do the job, the feds step in with more letters, such as:

— MMS (Mineral Management Services)

— ACE (Army Corps of Engineers)

— FWS (Fish and Wildlife Service)

— EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

So, if you’re a new business and all you want to do is sell flowers, for example, you simply need to swing by the AIB on your way to the RWQCB, without forgetting to check with the TSCB. Unless, of course, you live by the ocean. In that case, you’ll need a stamp from both CC’s and possibly the CIHA, just in case there is a harbor in the area.

That doesn’t mean the feds won’t want to see your MMS certificate, or proof that the flowers you are selling aren’t protected under the EPA’s Good Flower Program, otherwise known as GFP.

From the sound of it, Davis and his band of lawmakers ought to have this $34 billion deficit whittled down to a much more manageable $33.9 billion deficit by 2006 or 2007, provided the final budget passes review by the DBD&DT (Department of Bull Dung and Double Talk).

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears every Tuesday.


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