Friday, October 31, 2014

Solano business leaders told state election likely to be a quiet one

By Melissa Murphy @ReporterMMurphy on Twitter
Posted:   10/29/2014 08:50:54 PM PDT

Given that the November election is Tuesday, the Solano Economic Development Corporation isn't taking sides, but wants to stay informed.

Sacramento Bee Political Columnist Dan Walters shared with those gathered for the monthly Solano EDC breakfast Wednesday morning what voters should expect to see when polls close next week.
Walters characterized this election as "bizarre" and "weird" given that the most interesting race is for state schools superintendent, otherwise, he said, it will be another sweep by the Democrats.

He also explained that there are enough seats in play where the Democrats could lose the super majority, but other than "bragging rights," Walters said it won't make that big of a difference.
He added that voter turnout will be low with a best case scenario of 40 percent or slightly higher of registered voters actually casting their votes.

"There is not much contest for governor, there are no barn burning ballot measures and no senate race," Walters said. He explained that the Republicans do have a better chance of getting a seat in low voter turnout elections because that's when the Democratic vote turnout drops.
"The real game in this election is the senate contest, which California has no part of," he said. "California is on the sidelines of the main game of politics."

Walters also shared his thoughts on California's economy.
"The good news is we're still coming out of a recession," he said. "Which is better than still being in the recession."

However, while it looks like the state has regained the jobs it lost during the recession, Walters said to look more closely at those numbers.
"The reality is that California's population has grown," he said. "It's growing slowly."

California, he said, continues to lose people to other states and its unemployment rate is still high.
"We haven't really gained ground," he said. "Our unemployment rate is still one of the highest in the country."

Also, he said that just because it shows the state has gained jobs "it does not mean those are the jobs we need or want for economic recovery."
He said poverty rate, when factoring in cost of living, means California's rate is at 23.8 percent.

"There is a higher cost of living in California," Walters said. "In relation to income, it's by far the highest rate."
He added that the Bay Area counties have the highest poverty rates in the state.

"The incomes don't keep up with the cost of living," he said.
Walters also noted that the cycle of one boom and one bust every decade has "corrosive effects" on the economy.

"It's difficult to encourage investment when they're wondering when the next bust will happen," he said and added that California has a difficult investment climate.
Walters said that while state elected officials say they're going to change the dense regulatory investment climate, they have yet to do anything about it.

"It's hard to do business in California," he said.
Another hit to the business climate in the state is its infrastructure, according to Walters.

"We have crappy highways in California," he said. "Your car tells you when you've hit the state line. ... It's simply falling apart because we've neglected it."
He added that the states in the South that some would consider "backward" have better roads.

Walters did say that California does have some positives including its entrepreneurial spirt, access to the coast and its University of California system. However, he said, the state can't continue to rely on those aspects without making some changes.