Group presents plan to make California more business friendly

September 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Raising money and creating jobs is the current focus in Sacramento. One group presented a plan Thursday to make the state more business friendly, while lawmakers consider a different offer that could put thousands of people to work by giving Amazon.com a tax break.

Democrats have been pushing an agenda to make California more business friendly to spur jobs, but they're reluctant to allow Amazon to bring 7,000 jobs here.

Companies routinely complain how California's regulations are too burdensome, making it difficult to expand or hire. New proposals forged by Democrats and business leaders hope to change that.

"With an 11.8 percent unemployment rate in our state, we simply have no time to waste," said Assm. Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.

Regulatory relief is what Republicans have been pushing for, but they contend the Legislature is still approving bills that keep California unfriendly to business.

"This is a plus, indeed. Is it going to part the Red Sea and make California hospitable again? No," said Assm. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber.

One company willing to bring 7,000 jobs to California is online retail giant Amazon, which proposed to legislative leaders this week it would open six distribution sites. In exchange, they would have to suspend the state's new online sales tax law until 2014.

But the California Retailers Association questions whether the Amazon proposal will really help. Stores haven't been able to compete with e-tailers that have enjoyed a price advantage when they don't collecting the sales tax, the difference has resulted in layoffs.

"There's really no net increase in jobs because between now and 2014, the brick and mortar retail will continue to lose jobs," said Bill Dombrowski from the California Retailers Association.

As much as they'd love to claim the creation of 7,000 jobs, losing millions from the online sales tax that would go to state coffers is too much of a trade off for Democrats.

"I don't think we can afford to just say, 'Well, let's set $400 million aside,'" said St. Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

More than two million Californians are out of work, though, enough for Governor Brown to at least read Amazon's proposal.

"I'm open to any good constructive idea to create jobs," said Gov. Jerry Brown. "That's great. So we'll look at it," said Brown.

Session ends in a week. It's a race against the clock to get the Amazon proposal and regulatory relief plan approved.


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