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Austin Beutner Backs EZ Program

In today’s Daily News, Austin Beutner, LA’s first deputy mayor and CEO of the Office of Economic and Business Policy, issued a strong statement in favor of the expanded LA Enterprise Zone. More importantly, he backed the general tax policy underlying the EZ Program, i.e. tax credits bring in business and thus more than pay for themselves with other tax revenue and job creation. This is directly contrary to the unions and others who currently oppose the EZ Program.  Beutner had this to say:

Indeed, proof of sincerity on the part of City Hall once was a hurdle in bringing Los Angeles’ economy back to life. But no more. Ronald Reagan used to joke that the scariest words in the English language are: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Well, the lesson of this “L.A. Story” is that the city government can and will continue to help businesses, including those already here, that want to be a part of our comeback.

I’ll give you an example of this new approach, which occurred recently: Baxter Biosciences, and the expansion of the East Los Angeles State Enterprise Zone.

Baxter, an Illinois-based biotech firm with more than 1,100 employees here in Los Angeles, was hedging on its Southland future despite having opened its doors here nearly 60 years ago. The city’s Office of Economic and Business Policy met repeatedly with company officials since the beginning of this year. We worked with the state to create an expanded enterprise zone that would allow Baxter not only to remain here, but to grow – in this case, by taking advantage of lower operating costs and newfound tax credits.

The result: Baxter stayed put in Los Angeles.

Will there be future Baxter success stories in L.A.’s future? We certainly hope so. It won’t be for lack of effort or for failure to think outside the box.

Los Angeles is long past overdue for a comprehensive overhaul of a business tax code most likely designed for businesses that shod horses and sold blocks of ice for a living. It’s that outdated.
We must better understand what businesses – trade, transportation and clean technology, to name but three – will define 21st century California. Yes, we must offer encouragement and incentives. But we also have to do this in a sensible way. These necessary changes to the city’s tax code must take into account the full impact on revenue and city expenses.

It is not going to be easy, but it’s something we must do if the city is to have a bright economic future.


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