OUR VIEW: Governor, make small business top priority (poll)

By: ed
January 9, 2013
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Gov. John Hickenlooper will give his annual State-of-the-State Address today, and we hope he inspires other politicians to make jobs, profits and economic well-being the central theme of his talk. If we’re broke and unemployed, politicians can do little that interests us.

When The Gazette endorsed Hickenlooper, we were mostly impressed that he’s a self-made and successful small businessman. Among politicians, Hickenlooper has an unusual appreciation for the fact that prosperity begins with profitable business endeavors — most of them small.

As eloquently explained by syndicated columnist George Will in 2011, we can give Hickenlooper disproportionate credit for the revitalization of lower downtown Denver. Though he’s a former Denver mayor, Hickenlooper didn’t use government to invigorate an important section of downtown. He used business. He opened a brew pub and then a succession of brew pubs, including the popular Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in downtown Colorado Springs.

Our governor isn’t among those zero-sum gamers who think one man’s fortune is another’s loss. Will explained how the former businessman placed advertisements for competing restaurants in his pubs because he wanted potential customers to discover nightlife in downtown Denver. He didn’t view other businesses as an obstacle to success. He viewed the television as competition, as it kept people home and away from restaurants and bars. He saw the potential for economic growth and captured it.

Most Americans are employed by small businesses, which are the foundation of our economy in Colorado and the rest of the country. We assert few other governors understand this better than ours.

So we suspect the governor will be more than receptive to the top three concerns expressed to him in a Wednesday press release by the National Federation of Independent Business. The 7,500-member organization reminded Hickenlooper that 98 percent of the state’s businesses are classified as small enterprises by the federal Small Business Administration. The NFIB wants the governor to consider the following:

• “Regulations — Continue efforts to streamline existing state regulations while looking at each one currently in force to see if it is serving a purpose and at what cost. (According to the quadrennial Small Business Problems and Priorities study from the NFIB Research Foundation, unreasonable government regulations was the fifth biggest concern out of 75 measured by the Foundation and ahead of worries about taxes.)”

• Colorado Health Benefit Exchange — Now that Obamacare survived a U.S. Supreme Court challenge, the task for state policymakers is to make sure the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange delivers on its responsibility to bring health care affordability to the more than half of small-business employers and employees without it. Additionally, the cost of running the exchange must not fall on the backs of small-business owners burdened with myriad local, state, and federal regulations, taxes, and fees.”

• “Mandates — Ideally, the governor should call for a moratorium, or threaten a veto of, any legislation aimed at saddling small-business owners with any new mandate, such as proposals barring the use of credit reports in making hiring decisions and one imposing federal remedies on state courts.”

“With Obamacare now the law of the land, the tax and regulatory morass has only gotten deeper for business,” said Tony Gagliardi, Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “This only further handicaps the traction needed for businesses to start expanding and creating jobs again. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t recommend anyone start or expand a business — and certainly not hire another soul — until we see how 2013 shakes out. The federal government continues to do enough damage. It would be great to hear Governor Hickenlooper assure Main Street, Colorado, that the state will not put in any further kicks.”

We concur. Governor, we know you respect and understand small businesses. Please protect them as we begin 2013 and a new legislative session.

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