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Winning the Future in Sacramento

Summary: 
Lorraine Hariton, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the Department of State, describes a White House Business Council roundtable in Sacramento.

I asked the participants of the Sacramento White House Business Council Roundtable: What keeps business owners up at night?

For them it was the uncertainty caused by massive government regulations and other actions across all levels of government.

They explained that these include delays in receiving land use permits from federal agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. Often, projects are cancelled because permits aren’t issued. As well, government agencies need to be held accountable to a timeline for making decisions. Businesses invest time—which is money—in projects and delays cost real money. In addition, state and federal ADA regulations in California both have to be met and are often inconsistent.

Business people called for simplified regulations, with performance timelines for governmental decision makers who need to realize they are part of the process to enable business activity and not prevent it.

They feel that government also often looks to business to develop new streams of revenue by creating taxes and regulations when the economy weakens. In challenging times, though, businesses must cut expenses and not raise prices—so businesses’ uncertainty increases when the government needs more revenue.

Starting up and running a business is fraught with enough uncertainty that it need not be further burdened by ever-changing city, county, state and federal fees, taxes and regulations. Business owners are left with the feeling that they are not in control of their own destiny and that they can never really predict their bottom line for fear of some new regulation, tax, fee or labor costs.