City officials are clamoring to defend Barstow's Enterprise Zone from Gov. Jerry Brown's efforts to eliminate it and others across the state.
We've come to oppose Enterprise Zones, but not for the reasons Brown wants them gone. The state argues that the Enterprise Zones cost California millions of dollars, which is a misleading statement. Enterprise Zones give businesses within their borders credits and tax breaks for their equipment purchases and for employing residents in the area. So really, Enterprise Zones result in the state taking less money from businesses, and this is what they're defining as a "cost," as though the state has a right to this money and is being denied it.
What we object to is the fact that these same benefits are being denied to other businesses, resulting in unfair and preferential treatment to businesses within the boundaries of the Enterprise Zone. In the city's defense of Enterprise Zones, administrator Mark Murphy pointed out the jobs that were created within the zone's boundary. Planning Commission Chair Mike Lewis, who owns a business that benefits from the Enterprise Zone, suggested that some businesses might end up closing their doors if the zones were eliminated.
Isn't the defense of Enterprise Zones a blunt admission from government officials that the tax burdens on California businesses are too high? If the city wants to take credit for the successes of the businesses within the zone, doesn't it also mean the city has to take responsibility for the employment and business losses outside the zone?
If the Enterprise Zone is successful, then why doesn't every business in California get the same benefits? For that matter, what about businesses that compete against each other? Imagine a gas station inside the Enterprise Zone versus one just outside it. One gets tax credits that give it an advantage over its competition. How is that acceptable?
The benefits of the Enterprise Zone should apply to all businesses, not just those in an area crafted by government officials to help subsidize allies or promote certain pet projects. If Barstow's Enterprise Zone created 49 new jobs, think of how many jobs could be created if we all got the benefits.
Sadly, in all likelihood, the opposite will happen. Enterprise Zones will go away and even greater tax burdens will be placed on all businesses in the state.