A Message to the Governor – Stand Firm and Don’t Sell Business Out

Written by Christopher Wysocki, Executive Director, CASE 
If the Governor is to learn one lesson from the November Election results, it should be that moving to the Left is not the answer to his political troubles.

According to recent press reports, the Governor’s Chief Political Strategist Mike Murphy blamed the business community for the losses of Schwarzenegger’s reform package and vowed that the business community will face bad news in the upcoming legislative session – indicating that an increase in the minimum wage, further restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, and a host of other anti-business proposals loom close on the horizon.

As Murphy chastised the business community at a recent retreat sponsored by the representative of big business in the state, it was learned that the California Chamber of Commerce has hired liberal Democrat political operative Darry Sragow to run its 2006 election efforts. Murphy’s warning delivered to Chamber of Commerce executives coupled with the Chamber’s hiring of a liberal Democrat working for anti-business Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez paints a potentially catastrophic picture for the small business community in California.

It is no secret that anti-business leaders in Sacramento (the same people the Chamber of Commerce’s new political director works for) want to force the Governor into raising taxes, increasing the minimum wage, implementing a single-payer healthcare insurance regime paid for by small business owners, and signing off on a whole host of other proposals that would drive the state’s economy into the ground.

While the Governor may not be in the ideal political position to fight the anti-business lobby at this particular point, it is certainly no time for him or his political advisors to concede total defeat and abandon the vision that propelled him into office in the first place.

Consumers and small business owners want Governor Schwarzenegger to succeed. They want him to continue the path towards reform. And they want him to fix the fundamental problems that caused the recall of Gray Davis in the first place. What they don’t want is for the Governor to veer to the Left and adopt an anti-small business agenda.

From a small business perspective, the best way to claim victory from the November Election results is to acknowledge and accept the defeat at the polls as a message from the voters that they want real comprehensive reform – not meaningless spending limits and trivial tinkering with minor issues that avoided the heart of California’s fiscal troubles.

If the Governor is to regain his standing and popularity with the California electorate, he should reject the calls from those who want to see higher taxes on the small business community. While large companies (like those on the Board of the California Chamber of Commerce that hired Speaker Nunez’s political consultant) can afford to absorb increased costs of regulations and marginal tax increases, the same is not true of small businesses that create over 90% of the new jobs in the state. Companies struggling on a small 1% profit margin cannot afford the increased cost of doing business foretold by Murphy and advocated by the clients of the Chamber of Commerce’s new political advisor.

Governor Schwarzenegger is a smart politician. Our hope is that he will wake up and realize that the real reason he is in office today is that there existed fundamental problems with the way government operated under Gray Davis and a Legislature that was decidedly acting against the interests of small businesses in California. We hope he will dismiss the comments made by Murphy and send a message to the Chamber of Commerce that now is not the time to turn the keys to the state over to the same Liberals who nearly bankrupted the state under Gray Davis.

If Governor Schwarzenegger changes course so dramatically as to raise our taxes, impose new regulations on our small businesses, and make it tougher to run a small business; the people will certainly revolt.

We want Governor Schwarzenegger to succeed. To do so, he needs to get back to the basics and start pushing real reform and articulating to the people exactly why the reform is necessary to keep California moving forward. The last thing we need is an Administration willing to raise taxes and increase the burdens on small business coupled with a Chamber of Commerce that seems to have accepted defeat and is giving up the fight for California’s economic future.

Christopher Wysocki is the Executive Director of the Consumer Alliance for a Strong Economy, a nonprofit group headquartered in Sacramento representing over 10,000 small business owners and consumers interested in improving California’s economic climate. To learn more, visit www.ConsumerAlliance.org.

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