04.18.2011 1

California Can Look Within its Borders for its Budget Answers

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By Rebekah Rast – A state boasting the world’s eighth-largest economy now suffers from a 12.2 percent unemployment rate. What has happened to the once-booming state of California?

California Gov. Jerry Brown wants the answer to that question so he sent Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom to the state of Texas where 165,000 jobs have been created over the past three years.

Bloomberg quoted Gov. Brown saying, “Let’s get more jobs, more businesses. Some of our state legislators are going to Texas to find out how they’re doing. Gavin Newsom’s going with them. I’m waiting for his report, when he gets back, and if he has any good ideas, I’m going to share them with you.”

In a three-year time span, California has lost 1.15 million jobs. Bloomberg states, “While signature industries such as technology, trade and tourism have rebounded, construction and government employment are weak or falling” in the state.

But California didn’t need to go to Texas to get its answer. It only needed to look to another leader within its borders.

“What everyone can learn from Texas is that low taxes combined with limited public employee union power equals job growth and economic prosperity,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “And that is exactly what the city of Sanger in California is doing.”

According to the Sanger Herald newspaper, the city’s unemployment rate rests at 28 percent. It is a town facing some of the highest poverty in the nation and its mayor is Joshua Mitchell.

While running for election, Mayor Mitchell said the city’s debt, the amount of bad loans that it has and the lack of revenue coming in were of main concern. “I fully recognize we are in a financial mess and I will make it my top priority to fix it.”

And he has. In February, the City Council passed an incentive to return half of the city’s 1 percent share of sales tax revenue to new businesses that open in a vacant building. The City Council also agreed to waive sewer and water development fees for new commercial and industrial construction projects.

The city wants the passed measures to “make sure that roadblocks to business development and operation are moved aside so businesses can feel comfortable locating here,” stated Dan Spears, the city’s manager of planning, community and economic development, as recorded by The Fresno Bee newspaper.

An article written by Serafin Quintanar, a past Congressional Candidate for California’s 20th district, credits Mayor Mitchell for reining in spending as well. He writes:

“Sanger was paying the highest salaries for many department heads in Fresno County, even more than Fresno, the largest city in the county! Obviously, this had to be changed. So, Mayor Mitchell had the unions put their MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) up for a vote before the council. The council voted it down. Then the Mayor did something that is often heard in the rhetoric and pandering of politicians when running for office, but not put into practice. He told various departments to make concessions or have their department privatized. The results were what conservatives have always known; the unions backed down and conceded rather than be completely forced out of the equation.”

ALG’s Wilson is right. It looks like Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom did not need to travel to Texas to learn how to make business and people in California prosperous once again.

Wilson adds, “Unlike California, big spenders and union employees know better than to mess with Texas and Mayor Joshua Mitchell.”

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau. You can follow her on Twitter at @RebekahRast.

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