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Senator Tony Strickland: “It’s hard to believe anyone would advocate shutting the enterprise zones down.”

State Sen. Tony Strickland (R), who represents the 19th District and is one of the founders of the new “Taxpayers Caucus,” published the following Op-Ed in support of the Enterprise Zone program in the Santa Clarita Signal:

There’s been very little to celebrate about California’s economy over the past few years with unemployment at record highs, businesses leaving the state in increasing numbers and annual budget deficits topping $20 billion.

One of the few bright spots has been the continued success of the state’s Enterprise Zone program.

Adopted by the state Legislature in 1984 to incentivize business development and job creation through targeted tax credits, the program has to date reportedly saved or created a million jobs, reduced poverty and increased revenue for the state and local governments alike.

So it comes as a surprise and disappointment that the governor is trying to repeal this successful job-creation vehicle in an attempt to balance the state’s budget.

Not only would such an action discourage new investment in California at a time it’s needed the most, it would also punish companies that have opened or expanded here as a result of the program.

Without the employment and other tax credits available in the enterprise zones, it’s likely that many of these businesses would not have rented facilities, purchased equipment or hired workers. And it’s even more likely that without those tax credits, they will downsize, lay off employees or shut down all together.

In Santa Clarita alone, it’s been reported that more than 200 businesses have participated in the Enterprise Zone program, creating or retaining more than 1,900 jobs and providing opportunities for workers who otherwise would have had difficulty finding employment.

And it’s not only the businesses and workers who benefit. It’s their communities, which enjoy lower unemployment and poverty rates, increased economic activity and higher revenues.

It’s no wonder that the Santa Clarita City Council is strongly supportive of the Enterprise Zone program and the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation is seeking to expand the zone to attract more business to the region.

Contrast the thriving workplaces and good jobs and benefits made possible by enterprise zones with the prospect of empty storefronts, boarded-up facilities and more families on welfare and food stamps should the program be dismantled.
It’s hard to believe anyone would advocate shutting the enterprise zones down.

While I sympathize with the governor’s desire and the Legislature’s need to balance the state budget, I strongly believe we shouldn’t do it on the backs of companies that took us at our word when we promised them tax credits for a specific period of time, or on the backs of the hardworking women and men who owe their jobs to that promise.

Rather than break our promise by imposing what amounts to nothing more than a new-jobs tax, we should get serious about cutting spending and explore ways to encourage more — not less — investment in job creation and business development in California.

A new-jobs tax won’t make a dent in the state’s budget deficit. But it will make it even harder to reduce our disgracefully high unemployment rate and to recover from the recession that continues to plague California.

By saving Enterprise Zone program, we can save jobs. The Legislature should say “thanks, but no thanks” to the governor’s jobs tax.

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