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SacBee Op-Ed: “The proposal to eliminate enterprise zones is like taking someone’s property and it’s illegal”

Bill LaMarr, executive director of the California Small Business Alliance, which represents more than 10,000 California small businesses had the following Op-Ed printed in the Sacramento Bee explaining his perspective on possible litigation against moves to eliminate Enterprise Zones:

A March 8 editorial in The Bee (“Insiders vow lawsuits to save perks and pork”) called on businesses to drop our opposition to the proposed elimination of enterprise zones.

If someone tries to steal your property, you defend yourself and stop it.

The proposal to eliminate enterprise zones is like taking someone’s property and it’s illegal.

The state promised thousands of California companies that if they invested in enterprise zones they would receive tax credits. Eliminating them after businesses made those investments is a breach of contract. That’s why the state will be sued if it repeals enterprise zone tax credits.

But this is more than just a legal issue. Saving enterprise zones is essential to the state’s economic recovery. The program has created or saved more than 1 million jobs.

Enterprise zones give communities an effective tool for fighting poverty and moving people from public assistance to gainful employment. For example, Compton’s enterprise zone has created hundreds of jobs since 2007. Compton’s assistant city manager said: “If you cut these programs our city will be totally cut off at the knees. It will be disastrous for us.”

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido says his city’s enterprise zone has generated 33,000 jobs. He said: “Without the enterprise zone program they would likely be unemployed and relying on the taxpayer-funded safety net, instead of being productive taxpayers themselves.”

Enterprise zones have been especially important during this economic downturn. TomaTek in Firebaugh has relied on hiring credits to employ a thousand people during tomato season. In a town with an unemployment rate of over 30 percent, every job matters.

This proposed action is illegal, damaging to California companies, and will result in thousands of lost jobs. That’s why taxpayers, local government, small business and legislators of both parties support saving enterprise zones.

It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

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