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Op/ed: All jobs, not just green jobs, are what California should focus on


• EDITOR’S NOTE: The Business Times invited State Senate candidates Hannath-Beth Jackson and Mike Stoker to share their opinions on the economy and jobs. We’ve extended the opportunity to do so to other candidates in hotly contested political races in the region this election season and will continue to publish these op-eds in coming weeks. Read a previous exchange between Congressional candidates Lois Capps [here] and Abel Maldonado [here].

By Mike Stoker on Sept. 7, 2012

I have a long-standing record of supporting economic development, business attraction and retention in the Tri-Counties.  I have worked with numerous nonprofits involved in similar efforts, including the Santa Barbara Industrial & Manufacturing Association, which named me “Public Official of the Year” on the Central Coast. As a county supervisor, I was named “Most Valuable Public Official in County Government in America” by Governing Magazine for my efforts on reaching out and working with business interests.

Indeed, when it comes to promoting our businesses, I am known for walking the walk and talking the talk, which is why I am supported by the Central Coast Chamber Alliance, making up many of the Chambers in the 19th Senate District. The National Federation of Independent Businesses and the California Small Business Association, which represents more than 203,000 businesses in California, also support me.

There is a fundamental difference between myself and my Democratic opponent, Hannah-Beth Jackson, when it comes to economic issues. While I have long advocated serious regulatory reform, as a state assemblywoman, Jackson voted 100 percent of the time against the California Chamber of Commerce. She voted against the chamber when it said not to support legislation because Golden State companies would be put out of business or would be forced to move to another state, or where the legislation would make it impossible to attract new businesses to California.

It continues to amaze me that my opponent and her friends in Sacramento have been supporting these rules, laws and regulations and yet never seem to really understand the connection between over-regulation and business survival in this state.

In 2009, the dean of the Business School at CSU Sacramento, Professor Varshney, released the Varshney Report. That report tells it all in its summary: “Bottom line-the total cost of these irresponsible policies is $492.994 billion. On a per business basis the cost per business was $132,122 per business in 2007. In terms of employment, this total output for loss is equivalent to the loss of 3.8 million jobs for the state each year. In terms of labor income, the total loss to the state from the regulatory cost is $210,471 billion. Finally the indirect business taxes that would have been generated, but has been lost, is $16.024 billion.”

The fact is that what we have done to hurt our business climate in California has been largely self-inflicted by the policies pursued in Sacramento. We live in one of the most beautiful states in the U.S, have incredible resources and are located on the West Coast, interfacing with the Pacific Rim. California should, as it always has been in the past, be the last state into a recession and the first state out.

This time around it was different — we were the first state in and will be one of the last states out. As a native Californian, I grew up when our state truly was golden — we were No. 1 or No. 2 in every category measured. Today we are consistently at No. 49 or No. 50, whether the rankings are based on job creation, education, bond rating, over-taxation or heavy regulation. The good news is that we can reverse this trend by electing a new group of legislators who will protect the environment but will also be truly sensitive to the needs of our business community. The businesses of the Central Coast know me and know they can count on me to be that person.

Then there’s the topic of green jobs. My opponent will talk about this as the future for California. I believe all jobs, including green jobs, are important. What is truly tragic is that in the last five years, Texas has been the No. 1 state in attracting green businesses that create these green jobs. Why? When asked that question, many CEOs said they would pay a premium to have stayed in California or started their business in our state, but they just could not afford to do so in California’s regulatory environment. They chose the Lone Star State over California. I will work hard to reverse that statistic.

With all the hearings our legislators like to hold that accomplish nothing, perhaps they should consider a jobs creation and retention hearing and invite all those CEOs who went to Texas to come testify before the Legislature as to what actions could have been taken by the state to enable them to stay.

Finally, let’s speak specifically about the Central Coast. I will be a state senator such that every city and county, every chamber and every economic development association will know that I am fully committed to this cause. If anybody has a prospective business that is considering a move to the Central Coast, I will be on a plane the next day with representatives to go meet with that business and do what it takes to convince them how much the Central Coast has to offer. Likewise, if there is a business thinking of closing its doors or moving to another state, I will be sitting down with that business owner and asking him or her what it will take to keep them in our state. At the end of the day, I will be a legislator that every one of the businesses in our district will know it can count on 24/7 to fight for its interests and survival.

• Mike Stoker, R-Buellton, is a candidate for the 19th State Senate District and a former Santa Barbara County Supervisor.