Another election has come and gone in California. At the national level, there was a major shift, with new faces in Congress and a new party ruling the House of Representatives. But, we saw little change in the makeup of our California Legislature. While the status quo has not served California well in recent years, as our regulatory and business climate worsened the effects of a national recession, I argue that there is in fact reason for some optimism.
For the first time in California, several small business owners were elected to the State Legislature. They joined a strong contingent of small business supporters that currently serve in Sacramento. Together they will form an important group that understands the challenges small businesses face; now we need them to become a vocal champion of improving California’s economy by helping small business.
The value of small business cannot be questioned. California’s small businesses make up 99.2 percent of all employer firms in this state. They employ 52.1 percent of the private workforce and account for 90 percent of all new job creation. California small businesses account for 75 percent of California’s gross state product. But it hasn’t been easy; some businesses that have weathered the storm have been forced to go “underground” because they cannot afford the cost of doing business in California.
The question is what can be done to help improve the climate for small businesses?
The top two issues facing California small businesses today are excessive regulation and a lack of credit and capital. The regulatory environment in California has become a major impediment to business growth and job creation. Regulations have become duplicative, cumbersome, and inconsistent. Businesses trying to plan for the future are continually confronted with new barriers. The lack of credit and capital has also made the recession more difficult for business. Without available loans or credit, small business owners find it hard to keep their doors open.
But, I am hopeful that the new small business owners joining existing small business champions in the Legislature will help build momentum toward addressing these problems. In the era of term limits, educating new policymakers on the long-term needs of small business has become increasingly difficult. That is why the California Small Business Association looks forward to working across the political parties with like-minded legislators to help sort through the regulatory chaos, and to improve access to credit.
Small business owners can operate on a shoestring budget and know how to make things work, even when the odds are stacked against them. We hope our new legislators that are small business owners will bring those skills to Sacramento.
Improving California’s economy and creating jobs were the top issues for most candidates in this election. On the campaign trail, it was easy to say what the voters wanted to hear. Now it’s time for the Legislature to follow through and take the right steps toward promoting small business growth and job creation.
Betty Jo Toccoli is the President of the California Small Business Association.