VIEW FROM SACRAMENTO: ELECTION ANALYSIS
There is plenty of anxious hand-wringing among business groups and fiscal conservatives statewide – and perhaps even among those that aren’t necessarily fiscally conservative — following Tuesday’s election and the passage of Prop. 30. At an economic forecast conference hosted yesterday by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, California Business Roundtable President Robert Lapsley said we could be in for “grim times.” The Wall Street Journal editorial page today laid out its own doomsday scenario for the Golden State. Compounding the fears that California is headed for a Renaissance of rampant spending is the new and unexpected supermajority that Democrats claimed over the statehouse, ostensibly giving them carte blanche with the public’s checkbook. Lapsley suggested it’s time for the business community to circle the wagons.
However, Gov. Brown says he’s committed to a balanced approach to getting our fiscal house in order that includes making cuts and reforming spending. And state Senate President Darrell Steinberg sought to give assurances that the Legislature isn’t planning a big tax-and-spend binge. The Bay Area Council supported Gov. Brown and Prop. 30, with our Executive Committee determining that the temporary tax increase was necessary to help stabilize California’s budget without sending us over our own fiscal cliff and further eroding our education system. Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman, speaking at the same conference with Lapsley, reminded business executives in the audience that Gov. Brown, who still holds a veto pen, has a well-deserved reputation for spending restraint.
Many members of the supermajority, including legislators elected for the first time Tuesday, hail from districts with a watchful eye on spending. Wunderman also observed that legislators would be wise to remember that while they write the checks, voters still cash them. None of this is reason for complacency. Because, ultimately, the only sustainable, long-term path forward for California is growing our economy and creating jobs. And the last time we checked, businesses are still the ones that do that. That’s a message the Bay Area Council will continue to hammer home and we invite you to join us. To participate in our state government relations work, contact Matt Regan.