Whitman and Newsom Agree: There are Clear Paths to Fixing California’s Budget Woes

Last week OCBC welcomed to Orange County Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who shared with business leaders their unique economic perspectives and plans to restore California’s competitiveness and prosperity. While Newsom and Whitman hold different political viewpoints, their messages were the same: California is in peril; leaders in Sacramento MUST make economic development a priority in order to create jobs, enhance California’s business attractiveness, and restore California’s competitiveness in a global economy.  CLICK HERE for photos from the events.

On Wednesday, October 5 Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom met with OCBC for a private meeting to discuss his recently unveiled Economic Growth and Competitiveness Agenda for California . Following the meeting with business leaders, Newsom shared his economic vision for California with guests of the OC Forum Luncheon at the Hilton Irvine. Newsom’s plans were well received by attendees, who gave Newsom a standing ovation at the conclusion of his remarks.

Newsom outlined the numerous challenges facing California and his strategies for sustainable job creation and economic development to restore California’s dominance and prosperity. “The last thirty years we have flat-lined at 1.1% annual job production,” said Newsom. “We’ve become average.”

Among the challenges Newsom shared was the lack of focus on job creation in Sacramento, noting that the perpetual budget crisis clouds the legislature’s ability to take meaningful action on jobs. Newsom’s attention to the state’s economic development needs was well received by the business community whose voice has long been ignored by the state’s leadership.

“You cannot be pro-jobs and anti-business,” Newsom said.

California lacks a strategy for attracting new business to the state and no incentives exist for retaining businesses. Since 2007 more than 2,500 businesses with three or more employees have left California for more business-friendly states, taking 109,000 jobs with them.

Newsom echoed the business community’s call for the elimination of redundant state agencies and the modernization and streamlining of regulations. He credited the business community for advocating for a statewide economic development strategy, saying, “The state needs to get out of the way and support your plans.”

On Thursday, October 6 OCBC was pleased to welcome Hewlett-Packard president and CEO Meg Whitman at the BizFedOC inaugural luncheon. Whitman presented to a crowd of 150 a detailed analysis of the financial and structural challenges California must address, including $400 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities, $8.6 billion California owes the federal government, the state’s structural deficit, California’s second highest in the nation unemployment rate, and a climate that is driving out business.

“California is our house and our house is underwater,” said Whitman.

To address these looming problems, Whitman proposed a three-pronged solution: increased efficiency in state government, budget reform and growth in the economy.

“If state government could find just 10 percent efficiency over the next few years, it could save $12 billion.  Anyone who works in a business knows full well you can find 10 percent efficiency,” said Whitman.

Whitman echoed Newsom’s sentiment that the attitude in Sacramento towards business requires a complete overhaul if California’s is to remain an attractive place to live, work, and play.

“What business needs is an overriding approach from lawmakers and bureaucrats that calms the fear of uncertainty that hinders private investment and job creation.”

Whitman added that in addition to certainty, tax relief, tax reform, regulatory reform, and innovation in education can contribute to a more welcoming business climate. To read the full text of Whitman’s remarks, click here. For more information contact Kate Klimow, Vice President of Government Affairs.

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