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Editorial: Gov. Brown’s econ-devo plan likely to benefit region

By   /   Friday, May 24th, 2013  /   Comments Off

The number of companies and cities in the Tri-Counties that might benefit from the new regime of tax credits and Go-Biz perks is substantial.

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If the powers-that-be are robbing Peter to pay Paul and you happen to be Paul, you are not in a bad spot at all.

That’s precisely where Central Coast legislators find themselves now that Gov. Jerry Brown has made his latest proposal for funding economic development in California.

In a bold stroke, Brown proposes eliminating all of California’s Enterprise Zones, terminating all of their tax credits after five years and generating some $700 million in new revenue. He also proposes eliminating some $240 million in tax credits for new hires, part of a 2009 accord with Republican legislators.

The governor wants to replace the so-called E-zones with a more broad-based system that includes hiring credits in any area with high unemployment and poverty, a sales tax exemption for manufacturing and bio-tech research equipment, and a Go-Biz fund that will give the governor’s office wide latitude to hand out some $100 million to $200 million in tax credits to companies that expand in or relocate to California.

Clearly, Brown has been stung by revelations that the governor of California has no weapons to fight back as his counterparts from Texas, Colorado and elsewhere send baskets of fruit, free cell phones and a la carte perks to lure companies out of the state. Carpinteria-based CKE Restaurants and Oxnard-based Haas Automation have become high-profile targets for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Brown seems determined to fight back. But like his bold move to eliminate redevelopment agencies, this is not going to go down well with some of his Democratic Party allies. Many folks in Sacramento think he will need to peel off a few GOP votes in order to meet legislative hurdles.

Which is where the Central Coast comes into play. The number of enterprise zones in our region adds up to precisely zero. But the number of companies and cities that might benefit from the new regime of tax credits and Go-Biz perks is substantial. So far, GOP moderates like Assemblymember Jeff Gorell, a Camarillo Republican, remain uncommitted. Gorell told the Business Times he recognizes the advantages for his district but wants to see the state develop a consistent long-term strategy that will allow businesses to plan for the future. And he doesn’t want to see all of the manufacturing tax exemptions and other subsidies go to a narrow list of industries, i.e. only solar or wind producers.

But the bottom line for now on the Governor’s latest epistle from Sacramento is that the Central Coast can only benefit from a move to eliminate enterprise zones. And that’s not a bad place to be after all.

Pay phones still have their uses

The government’s spying on the press is a scandal that seems to get worse by the day.  It is a sad lesson that too much information in the hands of central authorities can only lead to no good. Which is why we will write a few words in favor of a dying technology that offers some of the best protection ever invented from spying bureaucrats — the lowly pay phone.

Yes, in the days of GPS and cell phone tracking, the pay phone is not as useful a tool as it once was. But for media types and sources, the pay phone still delivers a degree of anonymity that is not possible to achieve with land lines, text messages, cell phones or email.  Media professionals don’t yet have a legal shield to receive leaked information in the public interest, so anonymity is key. Enter the pay phone, a technology that is as old-school as it gets for reporter-source relationships. As the media and the American public have found out, even a dying technology has its uses.

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