Carla Marinucci, Drew Joseph, Chronicle Political Writers
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, August 8, 2010

With more than 2 million Californians out of work and the state’s unemployment rate at more than 12 percent, candidates in the races for governor and U.S. Senate are under pressure to address “job one” – how they will produce jobs for a tarnished Golden State.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has touted her experience as a job-creator as the former CEO of eBay, has announced a plan to create 500,000 jobs a year during her first four-year term.

But the fine print on Whitman’s “road map” carries cautionary notes: The goal depends on “full implementation” of 17 policy components – from the specific (“eliminate state tax on capital gains”) to the politically challenging (“review AB32”) to the vague (“improve workplace flexibility,” “end lawsuit abuse”).

At the same time, Democratic candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown – whose campaign slogan is “Let’s get California working again!” – has strongly supported AB32, the state’s landmark climate change bill, as a means to create jobs. He also offered an eight-point Clean Energy Jobs Plan to attract 500,000 new jobs over the next decade.
Expanded plan

Today, Brown is releasing an expanded Jobs for California’s Future Plan, which calls for work training programs, investing in education, cutting regulations, increasing incentives for manufacturing jobs and creating a “strike team” to retain jobs and attract new jobs to the state.

His plan comes as the state Legislative Analyst’s Office recently raised red flags about green jobs, saying implementation of AB32 could result in short-term job losses.

“There’s a broad spectrum of jobs that neither of them is addressing,” said Jorge Corralejo, CEO of the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, which represents tens of thousands of family-run shops and small employers in Southern California.

“Whitman is saying the same thing over and over again,” he said. “And I’d like to hear what Jerry Brown is saying, but you have to really dig. He’s got little or no campaign.”

Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Whitman, said she is “the most credible candidate on the economy (because) she has a record of success” at a Silicon Valley giant that includes creating tens of thousands of jobs and meeting a bottom line. Calling for more H-1B visas in high-tech sectors, modernizing workers’ compensation and streamlining business permits, she has presented a way for the state to create good-paying jobs, he said.

Brown, on the other hand, “has a record on job creation in California – and that was 1.9 million jobs created when he was governor” from 1975 to 1983, said his spokesman, Clifford Sterling.
Recovery is vital

California’s next governor may have little control over an issue that tops the agenda for state residents, said Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies, a political think tank in Los Angeles. Creating significant numbers of jobs is “only possible if you have a recovery,” he said.

“If the economy improves, the governor always claims credit,” Stern said. “And if the economy tanks, the governor says ‘It’s not my fault.’ ”

Less than three months before the November election, proposals to reduce California’s unemployment lines have become clear lines of attack for Republicans and Democrats, because creating jobs encompasses issues from immigration to green technology, from outsourcing, tax cuts and regulatory reform to government spending on infrastructure and transportation.

The urgency of the jobs issue is also reflected in the U.S. Senate race, where Republican candidate Carly Fiorina and incumbent Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, have battled up and down the state.
Party-line splits

In both races, the party lines are sharply drawn: Republicans Whitman and Fiorina, two former CEOs, decry what they say has been California’s unfriendly business climate and call AB32 a job killer. They emphasize tax cuts and regulatory reforms to help small and large businesses and argue that they have direct experience creating jobs.

Democrats Brown and Boxer argue for green-tech and clean-energy jobs that they say represent California’s best hope for employment for decades to come.

They say their government experience is a plus. Brown said he put Californians to work in his two terms as governor as the state led the way in alternative energy. Boxer touts her efforts to secure funding and jobs for major projects such as BART extensions, and her co-authorship of legislation to give small businesses more access to credit, capital and tax advantages.

Whitman spokesman Darrel Ng said her jobs plan is a guide for creating as many as 2 million jobs. “Should it be blocked by interest groups at the Capitol,” he said, “she’ll prescribe other solutions to help create those jobs.” Brown’s newly released plan is a realistic formula for job growth, Sterling said.

Analysts gave mixed reviews to the candidates’ plans.

“We had lower capital gains taxes for eight years and we ended in a horrible recession,” Stephen Levy, the director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said of Whitman’s call for capital gains tax cuts.

“I’m not saying the tax cuts caused the recession, but there was no time between 2000 and 2008 when there was a boom. We were just doing OK.”

But Jack Citrin, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, said lower capital gains taxes spur investment, which in turn sustains job growth.

Claudia Viek, CEO of the California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity, a San Francisco group promoting small businesses, said all the candidates should back efforts to produce more immediate payoffs.

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