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Sacramento Democrats killing California's 'golden goose'
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In the governor's final State of the State address, he announced that he was making jobs his number one priority. Though the governor's statements provide some hope, Sacramento must do more than just pay lip service to the desperate need for job creation and retention. Nor can we just throw money at the problem, as we have seen with the $800 billion federal economic stimulus package, which it turns out, had little impact on the recession.

Unemployment in the Central Valley continues to rise, even as rates decline in other areas. The official unemployment rate in Merced County is 18.3 percent, just a tad higher than Stanislaus County, which reports 17.2 percent unemployment. Madera County stands at 15 percent. The news is bound to be even worse when the next few reports come out, with temporary holiday jobs running out, and agricultural jobs scarce, since production typically slows between December to March.

Last year, state Senate Republicans unveiled our "Restore California" initiative, led by our "Job Creation and Retention Act." We proposed measures to reduce California's notoriously high businesses taxes to the national average in order to attract and keep jobs. We also advocated creating more private sector jobs by contracting out more state projects and services.

Unfortunately, the liberal Democrats (who control the Legislature) are so obsessed with raising taxes and pushing "Global Warming" that our Republican pro-jobs initiative never had a chance. In fact, this month, Democrats on the Assembly Natural Resources Committee killed Assembly Bill 118, a common-sense measure by Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda) that would have suspended AB 32 (the "Global Warming bill"). At the same time, Democrats on the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee passed AB 656 by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Newark), a measure to hike the oil and gas severance tax.

California's job-killing policies and regulations, like the AB 32 mandates, are likely to drive up costs and drive out businesses, further contributing to the unemployment rate. A study by Sanjay Varshney, PhD and Dennis Tootelian, PhD of CSU Sacramento released in June of 2009, estimated the costs of implementing AB 32 would mean a direct cost of $52 billion to consumers resulting in total lost output of $149 billion annually. The impact on businesses would mean the loss of over a million jobs, due to increased costs to consumers and small businesses.

The evidence of the failure of California's majority is obvious, especially when compared to more conservative states like Texas. A recent U.S. Census Bureau study reports that one out of every six American employers that closed permanently in 2008 was in California. During 2008, 45 percent more businesses in California closed than started up, whereas Texas saw a growth of 34.6 percent in new employers. The economic boom in Texas, where unemployment stands at 8 percent, compared to California's 12 percent, is largely due to their lower taxes and a business-friendly climate.

According to their 2010 State Business Tax Climate Index, the Tax Foundation ranks California 48th worst, followed only by New York and New Jersey. Clearly we have a long way to go if we are really serious about making jobs our number one priority.

I, and my Senate Republicans colleagues, will work hard to continue to fight for policies that will limit government interference in the industries upon which our economy is built. We will fight to level the playing field to promote entrepreneurship and investment in our state. We will fight to prioritize every taxpayer dollar to ensure that there are jobs available for California's families.

Getting government out of the way so that businesses can prosper is the only way to resurrect California's Golden Goose.