January 27th, 2011 2:59 PM by Lehel S.
The unemployment rate in California rose again by 0.1 percent. Not a huge jump I know. Still, the national unemployment rate decreased over the same period. That makes the California increase all the more painful.
We just can't sit around and wait for something to happen to create jobs. We have to try something. Hopefully, we can try many things. Of course, a state that is facing a $25 billion-plus budget gap has limited opportunities when it comes to funding new programs.
That's why I was so pleased when I received two initiatives last week aimed at helping businesses and creating jobs. Both initiatives are overdue and neither one will cost taxpayers any money.
The first was proposed by California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
He is pursuing emergency legislation ("emergency" meaning that if the measure is approved by the Legislature and is signed by the governor, it will take effect right away) requiring state agencies to review their regulations and "identify any duplicative, archaic or inconsistent rules."
He wants the reviews done quickly so the Legislature can make changes over the next six months to eliminate or streamline as many regulations as possible.
Some bloggers have written off the proposed legislation as a PR stunt. I don't agree. With some 5,000 pages of California code regulations, surely we can make changes that will make it easier to do business in California.
The second proposal came from Bill Allen, chief executive of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. The LAEDC always does its homework, and it has found that the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development is holding up $23 billion of hospital and health care-related construction work. While some hospitals have been forced to close and emergency rooms overflow, projects that would relieve this pressure - and create some 230,000 construction jobs - have been sitting in someone's in-basket.
After I got the information on the LAEDC's initiative, I immediately sent it out to members of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership's hospital coalition and asked them if they agreed with the LAEDC's analysis. Within minutes I was getting e-mails saying it is absolutely true.
One local hospital told me about a renovation project to add much needed acute-care beds that was submitted to OSHPD in 2009. There is still no indication about when approval might be forthcoming. Another hospital told me about waiting a year and a half for approval to begin the expansion of an emergency room.
How can that be?
Both of these are great ideas, but if experience teaches us anything they will remain nothing more than ideas unless the public pushes for action. Let's give Sen. Steinberg a head-start on regulation changes that will create jobs. Send your ideas to email@example.com, or bring them to my attention at the partnership.
Maybe he will start proposing changes now even before the Legislature acts. And let's ask our state legislative representatives to move OSHPD off the dime ... NOW.
Tell them to make hospital and other health care facility improvements a priority.