“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities,” wrote Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (AD-14, Concord) in a Tue., Nov. 26 e-mail communication to her constituents. The assemblywoman asked constituents to “shop locally on Small Business Saturday,” Nov. 30. It is small comfort to see Bonilla at least write about supporting the area’s small businesses. Unfortunately, an examination of Bonilla’s voting record in the State Assembly suggests that she is not supportive of small enterprises at all.
While in her e-mail, the Assemblywoman claimed, ” . . . my family and I are joining millions of Americans on Small Business Saturday by shopping at our local small businesses.” But, in 2013, Bonilla voted to raise California’s minimum wage to $10 per hour (Assembly Bill 10), giving California the highest minimum wage in the nation. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. California’s new minimum wage of $10 an hour takes effect on Jan. 1, 2016. This is nothing less than a big lump of coal for small business in her district.
Small business needs real support from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla
When business is good, the minimum wage can be absorbed by a small business, such as a Subway sandwich shop. But when business is bad, the sandwich shop, which may have 10 employees, typically will eliminate the jobs of several of these workers because they cannot afford California’s wage mandates.
Bonilla in 2013 also supported a “prevailing wage” bill (Senate Bill 54). This kind of legislation means that union-labor wage rates — not free-market wage rates — apply to a construction job, raising the cost of simple projects in some cases by 100% for labor alone.
The Wall Street Journal has calculated that prevailing wages for highway bricklayers, are about $50 an hour. The market rate for these workers is $25 per hour. Thus, under a prevailing wage system, taxpayers, instead of getting 100 miles of freeway, might get only 50 miles. Higher construction costs mean that small businesses (and taxpayers in general) have to pay more for transportation. Looks like Assemblywoman Bonilla is really the Grinch that wasted taxpayer dollars.
Bonilla also voted against hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a method of drawing cheap energy from under the ground in California (Assembly Bill 1323). The result of banning fracking means unnecessarily higher energy prices. Why pay $4.00+ a gallon for fuel when, with fracking, the price may be under $3.00? Lower energy prices help businesses stay competitive. Cheap energy is a critical foundation for middle class recovery. But Bonilla and her colleagues keep pushing policies that just don’t work and harm economic growth for future holidays.
Sure, it’s nice and cuddly to read Bonilla’s season greetings and a whiff of support for small business. It would be even nicer if she actually supported legislation that helped small businesses keep costs down and grow, and thereby remain competitive.