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We need jobs here, jobs now and jobs to stay

POSTED February 2, 2010 7:50 p.m.
Ask anyone on the street what they believe is California’s top problem and most will tell you it is unemployment. The state’s economy is so bad that most people worry about their job, are out of work themselves or know someone who is.
With unemployment at 17 percent in Stockton and ranging anywhere from 15 to 25 percent in the rest of our Central Valley communities, the state needs to act now to bring back jobs. But before it can help, Sacramento must have a reality check and realize that our economic problems have been made worse by lawmakers and bureaucrats over the years.
While the state flirts with tax increases, our agricultural, trucking and educational sectors continue to decline. We only have to look at places such as the west side of Stanislaus County, where the lack of water and opportunity have caused catastrophic unemployment. Even dedicated public servants like our teachers are losing their jobs. Stockton is in the process of cutting 192 teachers while other districts like Manteca are imposing deep cuts.
Since I first arrived at the Capitol 14 months ago, I have been shocked to see the barrage of misguided proposals for tax increases, fee hikes and more regulations on families and job creators. We already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation, including gas and sales taxes, and yet some lawmakers want us to pay more to bail them out of their poor decisions.
That’s why 2010 must be the year that California makes jobs its top priority. We need to create an environment where we can protect the jobs we do have and create new ones as quickly as possible and for the long-term. Doing anything less would further the economic pain we are feeling here in the Valley.
Democrats and Republicans need to come together and pursue a two-pronged approach that will create and retain jobs. First, we need to re-examine our existing tax and business policies and compare them to other states that have lower unemployment, such as Arizona. We need to see what works and what doesn’t so we can have a complete picture of California’s struggling economy.
Second, we must make the changes necessary to create a more friendly jobs climate. If California has lower costs and less burdensome mandates on job creation, we will see more businesses thrive and hire new people. With more businesses producing and more people working, we will have more tax dollars to protect critical priorities like education and prevent teacher layoffs.
In the end, we need a healthy private-sector paired with a more responsive government to protect jobs. But neither I nor my colleagues can do it alone. You can help by taking a jobs survey at a website I helped
established called www.CAJobsFirst.com, and letting me know your ideas to bring California back. The site also includes useful information about our jobs problem and resources for the unemployed.
There’s a lot of work to be done, but with our skilled labor, farm-friendly climate and strategic location, we can return to prosperity. In the very near future, I will be introducing legislation to providing solutions to our jobs problem, make California more business friendly, and put Californians back to work. I am committed to doing everything I can to help the state refocus its priorities on job creation, so more people can get back to work and support their families.
— Assemblyman Bill Berryhill represents the 26th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Stockton, Ceres, Escalon, Manteca, Modesto, Patterson, Ripon and Turlock.
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