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California business was a loser in '08

Posted: November 9, 2008 7:13 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2008 4:59 a.m.
Dateline: Nov. 5, 10:05 p.m., my living room couch.

It has taken a little more than 24 hours, but I'm finally coming to terms with the events of Nov. 4, - a momentous day in this country's great history.

First, let me say congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama, his family and supporters. It was a hard-fought battle, marred with a cornucopia of negative ads and contentious words.

However, despite my personal politics and my disagreement with Obama's, he is and will be my president for the next four years, so I will support him and pray for both him and this country as we enter one of the most difficult times in the nation's history.

Between the election of Obama, the bloodbath of fiscally conservative Republican candidates, and the Democratic Party taking even greater control of our national and state legislatures, many (including yours truly) have serious concerns about the future of small business in this country, and in California in particular.

So while Democrats won big that night, it was small business that truly lost Election '08.

On a national level, House Democrats have vowed to re-visit the Employee Free Choice Act, which is a pro-union, anti-business bill that radically changes the way unions are allowed to organize in the workplace.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that passage of this bill would be one of the most critical blows to business in the United States in the last 70 years.

President-Elect Obama has pledged his support for this bill, meaning that it is now an inevitable part of how labor and business will interact in this country.

As for California, from the numbers it appears that the Democrats have taken a solid majority in both the state Assembly and Senate, which should allow them to overcome the Governator's veto on any major legislation that comes to his desk.

The effects of this transition are probably greater than most Californians realize. As promised by Assembly Democrats three months ago, we can count on new legislation that will require all businesses, regardless of size, to provide mandatory paid sick leave to any employee working more than seven hours per year.

The cost to California business is estimated to exceed $400 billion annually. A similar bill that passed in the city of San Francisco two years ago wound up driving nearly 13 percent of small businesses (five or fewer employees) out of business or out of the city.

Also, we can likely count on legislation that will provide for a mandatory employer-funded health care plan, which would be administered by the state of California.

Experts opine that this program could wind up bankrupting about 20 percent of California small businesses and could cost taxpayers upwards of $900 billion per year.

That's a combined cost of nearly $1.3 trillion, with approximately one-third of California small businesses going under - including all of the jobs created by those businesses - with the passage of just two bills!

Democrats have vowed that these bills will be presented in the new term, and with Republicans potentially losing seats in both houses of the Legislature, not even the governor's veto can prevent these bills from becoming law.

And that is likely just the beginning! Taxes will be raised on corporations, large or small, in order to make up for the ridiculous budget deficit created by the billions of dollars that will be poured into various social programs and government bureaucracies.

For those businesses that are not forced to close their doors due to higher taxes and lower profits, or end up moving to one of the 49 other more business-friendly states, consumers can count on those businesses passing along the tax liabilities through higher retail prices.

Now more than ever, it is essential for small business owners to be vocal with their concerns. Call local politicians and demand that they consider your business, and others like yours, that could wind up leaving their district (along with the jobs you have created), if one of these so-called "Job Killer" bills is passed.

California voters could end up looking back at Nov. 4, 2008, not with the amazement generated by the election of America's first minority president and the excitement of "Change" and "Hope," but rather as the beginning of the end for small business in this state.

Brian Koegle is a local attorney. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily that of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now" runs Mondays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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