Neel Kashkari: Returning CA to Path of Prosperity

When I started thinking about running for governor more than a year ago, it was in large part because I was frustrated by the Democrats’ ascension to one-party rule in Sacramento. Their big-government policies have continually failed millions of middle-class families across the state; that was no surprise. Since then, we’ve also seen a culture of corruption revealed in Sacramento that underscores the urgency of electing new leaders to guide our state.

The truth is, California is in desperate need of fresh, bold leadership that is unafraid of taking our state in a new direction. California has the potential to be the best place to live, but the fact of the matter is that we have been in a downward spiral for years. If you were to listen to Governor Jerry Brown, however, you would think that things have never been better in the Golden State. But his claims of a “California comeback” ring hollow for families, businesses and communities up and down the state.

In fact, Governor Brown has completely lost sight of California’s priorities. At a time when the state ranks 47th in jobs, 46th in education and 1st in poverty, his focus continues to be on his legacy: A $68 billion high-speed rail project that Californians don’t want and can’t afford.

jerry brown tax increase

California is perennially listed as one of the worst places to do business – Chief Executive Magazine awarded us the dubious honor again just a few weeks ago – yet Sacramento politicians turn a blind eye to these troubling statistics and continue to pass laws and regulations that make it more and more difficult for small businesses to grow. It sometimes feels as though a California company talks about moving to, or expanding in, Texas every other day. Businesses should be flocking to the Golden State – not from it.

California has some of the highest taxes in the nation, yet the tax-and-spend culture in Sacramento continues to thrive. Politicians can’t wait to get their hands on taxpayer dollars to waste on frivolous government programs. I recently called on Governor Brown to repeal the sales tax increase portion of Proposition 30 in order to bring relief to middle-class Californians who are working tirelessly to make ends meet – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We know our state’s taxes are too high, they’re poorly designed and we’re not getting our money’s worth for the taxes we pay. And the ones who are struggling most as a result? Millions of middle-class families – and it’s time we held Governor Brown accountable.

The good news is that we know how to turn this around. We know how to unleash the private sector and to improve our schools. All across the nation, Republican leaders have implemented bold reforms that have produced remarkable results. We know that this can work – but it does require a willingness to challenge the status quo.

My first order of business as governor will be to cancel the high-speed rail project and instead invest it in water storage to help prepare for our state’s next, inevitable drought. I want to create incentives for companies that open manufacturing facilities and create jobs here. By safely tapping into our state’s natural resources, we can create thousands of jobs. Regulatory reform can make a huge difference in making our state friendlier to job creators.

Reforming our education system starts by giving control back to parents and teachers. Our kids aren’t all one size, so our policies shouldn’t be either. Giving schools and parents much more control over their budgets and how they educate their students provides them the opportunity to innovate in ways that can lift student achievement. Likewise, making higher education more accessible opens up doors to social mobility that can help close the inequality gap that’s grown ever larger in recent years.

As Election Day approaches, I am more convinced than ever that Republicans can take back Sacramento. Californians are fed up with the same tired rhetoric from career politicians who have run this state into the ground. The task won’t be easy, but I am up for the challenge. With voters’ support, we can win in November and return California to the path of prosperity.

Neel Kashkari, Republican candidate for governor, previously served in the U.S. Treasury Department during former President George W. Bush

Editor’s note: A column by state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, Republican candidate for governor, will be published Saturday on CAPoliticalReview.com