Sunday, July 20, 2008
IT AIN'T JUST ME...
A symbol of California's car culture is now picking up and moving a big chunk of its operations out of state. Earlier this week, the California State Automobile Association, an affiliate of the national AAA, announced it is closing all three of its call centers in the state at a loss of 900 jobs. Spokeswoman Cynthia Harris was quite blunt about the reason: "It costs more to do business in California than other states." Her group will now will be answering calls from California motorists from new centers in lower-cost Arizona and Oklahoma.
Few entities in California are better known than the California State Automobile Association, which for decades has provided the car-happy state with auto insurance, towing services and travel planning. Its departure is one more sign that California's current tax and regulatory climate is driving jobs away. California's liberals seem oblivious to such developments. One-seventh of California's pending $101 billion state budget is red ink, the result of the state's leadership once again failing to rein in spending and develop a less volatile tax base. The Democratic legislature has proposed over $8 billion in higher taxes to plug part of the gap, but for the last month there has been a budget stalemate as the GOP minority refuses to consider higher taxes and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dances between the two sides.
The state's Democrats not only insist on higher taxes, but are blocking a proposal from Gov. Schwarzenegger to limit future spending increases to the growth of the state's population and inflation in an attempt to cushion the impact of future economic downturns. "I think that we have to be very, very careful about tying the hands of future governors and future legislatures," says Democratic Assemblyman Dave Jones. Apparently, he and his colleagues prefer tying the hands of California businesses so they feel compelled to flee the state.