BY KEVIN KILEY
Governor Newsom has named Tom Steyer, the former presidential candidate and hedge fund manager, to lead an 80-member Economic Recovery Commission. Notably absent from the Commission: small businesses. They’re outnumbered 10 to 1 by major company executives despite making up 99.2 percent of all California employers.
Right now, small businesses are fighting for their lives. I surveyed 1,000 in my district and 97 percent are likely to “lose a significant amount of income” because of the pandemic. All but 7 percent will have to shut down permanently if they can’t re-open within 3 months.
The current rules as to which businesses are allowed to open strike many people as arbitrary. That’s because they are. California’s millions of businesses can’t all be neatly assigned to Stage 2, Stage 3, or Stage 4. A better approach is to let a business open when it can do so safely – as assessed in a localized way that considers precautions that can be taken.
The Legislature returns next Monday, and we need to pass historic regulatory relief for small businesses. Many regulations, like PAGA or AB 5, serve no public purpose and are simply wealth transfers to favored interest groups. Incredibly, the EDD has continued to harass small businesses with audits during the pandemic.
I’ve introduced a number of measures to help small businesses, including repealing AB 5’s ban on independent contracting, making sure California does not tax PPP loans, and providing a refund on past taxes based on this year’s losses. That’s just a start. Gov. Newsom has pledged to “do everything we can to keep small businesses afloat.” I plan to hold him to that pledge in the weeks ahead. California won’t be the same state if small businesses aren’t able to recover.