By State Controller Gray Davis
March 2 & 3, 1994

When I moved here with my family 40 years ago this year, California truly was The Golden State.

Houses were affordable. Streets were safe. Public schools were good -- and safe.

And above all, jobs were abundant.

California was the land of promise, for my family and for countless others.

But today, that California often seems like a very distant memory, as we struggle through the deepest and most prolonged recession in half a century.

California has been shelled by deep cuts in defense spending, an unprecedented series of natural disasters, and a frightening epidemic of violence.

But we cannot in good conscience blame Mother Nature and the Pentagon for all our problems. Nor can we afford to sit and wait for Washington to help us solve them.

For most of the last decade, other states were preparing themselves for the economic competition of the '90s. But California's leaders -- Republican and Democratic -- sat back, cocky and complacent, in the false conviction that our undeniable natural advantages -- ready ports, a superb climate, a superior workforce -- would simply sell themselves.

And while we sat back, Utah put together a 100-page strategy for luring away California's aerospace industry.

They sent a SWAT team of salespeople here, made their pitch, and walked away with Western Gear and a Douglas Aircraft parts plant -- and at least 1,500 California jobs.

That story has been replicated over and over again all over the State, and helps explain why we've lost 260,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs in the past four years alone.

According to UCLA Forecasting, we've lost more than half a million jobs since 1990. That translates into the loss of one job every working minute of every working day for the last four years!

Our problems have been exacerbated by 11 years of Republican Governors who believed that State government had no role to play in preparing for California's economic future.

Virtually every other governor in America serves as chief salesperson for their state, continually touting its strengths and competitive advantages.

Our own Governor, on the other hand, spent most of the last three years publicly bashing and badmouthing California -- much to the delight of our domestic and foreign competitors.

Every week, a visiting governor or foreign official flies into California to lure away our jobs and industries.

But Pete Wilson did not take a single trip overseas, did not even take a single trip around the country, to drum up business or tourist dollars for California for three whole years.

To this day, California does not have an affirmative strategy to maintain and attract business and jobs. Even worse, policymakers in California too often have enacted laws and regulations that seem calculated to drive existing jobs away.

At both the State and local levels, we've been national leaders in the manufacture of bureaucratic red tape and regulatory hoops.

As a result, a typical 40-employee firm with facilities in five California counties would have to deal with 15 State agencies, 35 regional agencies, and 39 local agencies, according to a recent analysis.

Now, some regulations are essential to the protection of our health, our safety, and our quality of life, and should be preserved.

But many are unnecessary, ridiculous contrivances that bury entrepreneurs under a mountain of paperwork.

California simply cannot afford a regulatory and permitting process that stresses form over substance.

Here's a typical story that illustrates this point. In 1993, the California-based Thrifty Drug chain announced plans to keep its headquarters in one of our large cities, amid rumors of an impending move out of the State.

A festive ceremony was held to mark the occasion, attended by dozens of local officials, including the mayor.

A few days later, that company was cited and fined by the very same city for hanging a banner over the platform at that celebration without the proper permit!

It's obvious to me that what California needs first and foremost is a serious change of attitude. It's time we elected officials in particular came down off our high horses and fessed up to our own errors of omission and commission. It's time we checked our collective ego at the State line and began to compete vigorously.

And just as it took a conservative Republican President to open the door to China, it now falls to the Democratic Party to redefine the relationship between business and government.

Where once government and business were adversaries, now they must be partners -- for our sake, and for the sake of the next generation.

I believe a progressive Democrat has to care about business if he or she really cares about workers.

And I say it's time we hang our own banner from one end of the State to the other -- a banner that says California is finally open for business; a banner that aggressively touts our strengths and markets our advantages; a banner that reflects a solid, intelligent plan to bring California back!

Because I love California; because I believe in this State; because I want to help lead its resurgence, I'm here today to announce my candidacy for the Office of Lieutenant Governor.

The primary duties of the Lieutenant Governor fall in the areas of economic development, higher education, and the promotion of trade. As such, the Lieutenant Governor is well positioned to help lead California's resurgence.

But I'll also bring with me a record of activism of which I'm proud. Anyone who knows anything at all about me -- whether they agree or disagree with me on issues -- knows that I am a doer.

Throughout my career, I've not limited myself to the narrow constraints of an office, but I've tried to respond to the great public policy challenges facing the people of our State.

And I intend to bring to the table a series of proposals and strategies to help bring California back!

To bring California back means to aggressively market our greatest assets -- particularly our enormous intellectual resources.

To bring California back means to provide incentives to California inventors to license their products with California companies, so that ideas born in California generate jobs for Californians.

To bring California back means to reward with tax credits and other incentives businesses who hire more workers and generate additional taxes that fund public schools and infrastructure improvements.

To bring California back means to tame the regulatory madness that has made a fetish out of forms and brought on paralysis in the name of process.

To bring California back means to make sense of the bewildering and uncoordinated tangle of economic development programs for the small-business person hoping to expand, and for the unemployed worker searching for a job to match his skills or the training to upgrade them.

But to bring California back also means a willingness to confront crime -- in itself a powerful deterrent to economic growth.

Businesses simply won't stay -- let alone expand -- in a community in which violence flourishes. Nor is it enough to produce more jobs if Californians don't feel safe on the streets, in their cars, or even in their homes.

That's why I've always supported the death penalty. That's why I favor the Umberg-Rainey approach to locking up three-time violent offenders for life. And that's why I join a growing number of DAs who believe prosecutors should have the discretion to try as adults juveniles who commit violent felonies.

As a Vietnam veteran, I have great appreciation for anyone who puts him- or herself in harm's way on behalf of others. And starting with my days as Chair of the California Council on Criminal Justice, I've always enjoyed a close working relationship with the law enforcement community throughout California.

That's why I'm proud that so many working peace officers have endorsed my candidacy for Lieutenant Governor, including the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Riverside Sheriffs Association, the Los Angeles School Police Officers Association, the California Union of Safety Employees, and the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association.

But in the fight against crime, we can't do it all at the State level. We must also recognize and support community-based programs that train and mentor our young people.

We're always telling young people to "just say no." But we've also got to give our kids something to say "yes" to.

I know that few of these proposals, on either the economy or crime, are without controversy.

On each and every issue, there will be powerful interests arrayed against change.

On some, the objections will come from the left. On others, they will come from the right.

But California's new realities demand that we shed old assumptions and show a willingness to work together in search of innovative solutions to the challenges we face.

If we do -- and only if we do -- we can rescue California from the tides of change that have nearly drowned us.

As California's next Lieutenant Governor, I intend to be a leader in the efforts to revitalize California -- out of which, I'm confident, we can forge a future at least as bright as California's golden past.

Thank you very much.


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