In order to do better, we need to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses. Improving the quality of life for Californians means leveraging our strengths and mitigating the weaknesses that are holding us back.
Education and economic opportunity are two key contributors to prosperity. We know that better educated people have higher earning potential, and we have a broad consensus in California that better education for our young people will help them for their entire lives.
However, a good education alone doesn’t produce prosperity. That certificate or degree does not do much good unless its holder can find a good job, and there exists an economic environment where someone can move into better paying positions throughout his or her career. This is where the importance of economic opportunity proves to hold equal importance as a good education.
It is also the area where California is most clearly failing.
Our opponents consistently claim they want to “create good paying jobs” while they concurrently maintain and ratchet up policies to make it increasingly difficult to create those jobs.
Across our economy, we know that most job growth isn’t generated by big business or big government. Rather, most job growth is generated when small businesses can succeed and grow into bigger businesses.
Yet, small businesses are hit hardest by the torrent of regulations, lawsuits and taxes government ceaselessly throws at them. Government passes on the costs of its own regulations and inefficiencies on to taxpayers. Big businesses have the economies of scale necessary to better absorb yet another tax, regulation, or lawsuit.
In California, we’re not making it easier on small businesses. And it’s why CEO’s have rated California as the worst state in the nation for business for the 8th year in a row. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/california-352341-business-state.html Meanwhile, the American Tort Reform Association ranks California as the nation’s top “judicial hellhole. http://www.judicialhellholes.org/2013-2014/california/ The American Legislative Exchange Council ranks California #43 in economic performance and #47 in economic outlook. http://www.alec.org/wp-content/uploads/CA.pdf The list goes on.
California needs new leaders who are committed to improving the state’s lagging schools while concurrently expanding economic opportunity. The way we do this? Reform.
State government can’t cut its way to efficiency. Reducing spending on an inefficient department or program by 10% still leaves you with an inefficient department or program. In fact, if the bureaucrats in charge of implementing a cut choose to reduce front line workers instead of the bureaucracy or top level management, a cut can leave a department or program even less efficient than before.
The Republican Party should not be merely or primarily the party of cuts. We should be the party of reform. It’s not enough to simply spend less money on outdated programs. It’s better to reform those programs we need, get rid of the ones we truly don’t, and invest more in those areas that can genuinely improve education and expand economic opportunity.
Unfortunately, too many leaders don’t have the patience or interest in reform. Genuine reform is usually more challenging and time consuming than just passing a budget that tweaks spending on existing programs and departments. And reform is certainly less “fun” than passing new laws that create new programs and benefits that win favor from established interest groups.
Yet, the long term health of our state, and our future prosperity, hinges on our ability to take a hard look at existing taxes and programs. Find ways to achieve worthy public policy goals in ways that take into account new ideas, best practices, and what we have learned since those programs and taxes were put in place.
Better education and more job opportunities for Californians should be at the center of our vision for California. Bold reforms based on powerful and proven ideas are how we get there.