Small business owners are accustomed to doing a lot with little.
For the vast majority of small businesses across California, owners also serve as the human resources department, the compliance department, the legal department, the payroll department, and so on. In a state where we add thousands of new laws, regulations and associated penalties and fees to the books every year, it is painfully clear that small businesses, the engine of the California economy, are being suffocated.
As members of the National Federation of Independent Business in California gather in Sacramento this week to meet with legislators about issues impacting their small businesses, we urge policymakers to listen to their stories and struggles of running a business in California.
There should be nothing partisan about finding commonsense policy solutions to help foster job growth. While each small business has their own challenges, employers tell us they are looking for solutions to excessive regulation and taxation, and burdensome mandates.
A recent NFIB survey found that half of all small businesses deem regulations to be a serious problem. Compounded regulatory requirements from the federal, state and local levels are costly, and in some cases fatal. This is why the subject of regulatory reform has been bipartisan in the Legislature, and we hope this is the year legislation will bring relief for struggling job creators.
Assembly Bill 12 by Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, would require all state agencies to conduct a full review of regulations to find which are outdated, too costly or overlap with other rules. Such a full-scale review has not happened in decades and would benefit taxpayers as well as small business owners.
Additionally, Assembly Bill 77 by Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, would require legislative approval for any regulations with an impact of over $50 million. We clearly have no shortage of good ideas on both sides of the aisle for regulatory reform – however, we hope to see the political willpower to get something passed.
Small business owners in California are the most taxed in the nation. Although Pennsylvania recently stole our state’s status as home to the highest gas tax in the nation, some in Sacramento wish to raise California’s gas tax and reclaim this title. Current legislation seeks to tax California drivers, working families and job creators several billions of dollars per year for road repairs.
In a recent balloting of our NFIB California membership, 90 percent said they are opposed to raising these taxes since we have existing budget dollars which could fix our roads. With the potential of a new tax on services, threats to Proposition 13 and increasing uncertainty regarding tax reform on the federal level, now is not the time for tax increases on small business.
Finally, additional labor mandates continue to burden small businesses in terms of complexity and cost. Assembly Bill 5 by Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, would mandate that employers offer additional hours to existing part-time employees before they can hire new workers, including temporary or seasonal staff. In addition to the burdens this would place on a small business, it would also expose the business to costly litigation, which would do nothing to help California’s hostile legal climate.
While small business owners have a long list of challenges in the pursuit of owning, operating and expanding in California, the good news is there exist opportunities for legislators to work in a bipartisan fashion to foster job growth. In the areas of regulatory reform, tax relief and burdensome mandates, small business needs solutions, not rhetoric, from Sacramento.
Tom Scott is the executive director for NFIB California. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.