Since the summer of 2022, California has seen an alarming spike in unemployment, with the number of jobless individuals soaring by almost 200,000.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office recently disclosed this disheartening information, revealing a surge in the state’s unemployment rate from 3.8% to 4.8%. Concurrently, inflation-adjusted incomes in California have recorded five consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines, underscoring the profound hardship endured by families in the state.
Despite explicit warnings from Republican lawmakers and their own constituents, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic legislative leadership have maintained a tone-deaf governance approach. They have staunchly resisted any proposals for tax or cost reductions, compounding the financial burden on families, seniors, small businesses, and workers already grappling with reduced wages and heightened unemployment.
A glaring example of this economic strain is the exorbitant cost of gas in California, currently averaging $4.83 per gallon and reaching $4.94 in Los Angeles County. In stark contrast, the national average stands at $3.25 per gallon. Consequently, a family filling a 16-gallon tank in California incurs a staggering $25.28 more than the national average, exacerbating financial pressures alongside elevated housing, food and energy expenses.
High costs have cascading effects, impeding families’ ability to afford services, making business operations more costly and exacerbating job losses. This worrisome economic trend is glaringly evident in the Legislative Analyst’s Office’s recent figures.
For years, I have advocated for solutions, proposing a pause and elimination of the gas tax, along with tax cuts for parents and families. Regrettably, these proposals were shelved by the Democratic majority controlling California’s state Assembly and state Senate. It’s crucial to note that the repercussions of costly policies extend beyond party lines, affecting Democratic, independent and Republican voters alike.
While there is a silver lining in the form of potential solutions, their implementation necessitates a demand for greater balance from voters and a willingness among those in power to consider recommendations from myself and my Republican colleagues. Lowering gas prices is just the beginning; we can push for increased accountability from energy monopolies, advocating for reduced energy rates and diversification of energy sources. Additionally, the approval of a substantive renter’s tax credit is imperative, a proposal I championed during my tenure in the state Assembly.
In essence, a collective effort from Republican, independent, and Democrat voters can wrest power from the current majority and their billionaire backers in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. This shift can pave the way for tangible cost savings, tax cuts and job growth, harnessing the collective power of the people.
By doing so, we can anticipate positive economic reports, steering California away from the current trajectory of decline imposed by its present leadership.
Suzette Martinez Valladares is Santa Clarita’s former assemblywoman, wife, girl mom, avid DIY’er and a monthly contributor to The Signal’s “Right, Here Right Now,” which appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.