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We're Not Saying It's a Trend Line but . . . : . . . Good news is a lot better than bad

CALIFORNIA WATCH: One in an occasional series

September 20, 1993

A few cautionary words of disavowal--or at least proper, sober perspective--before proceeding:

Caution Sign 1: California is in deep economic soup and there's no miracle big enough to get it out overnight.

Caution Sign 2: Just because it had a very good finishing flourish in its summer session, the California Legislature, which bumbled, stumbled and fumbled for so much of 1992--until it had half the country practically in stitches--hasn't exactly turned itself into, oh, the British Parliament on its best day.

But . . . but . . . .

Mini-Trend 1: A flurry of recent corporate "we're staying" or "we're expanding" announcements has to make one wonder whether maybe some sort of positive trend line isn't in the making.

Consider the Louisiana Pacific Corp., which was planning to move a cement roof-shake plant to Mexico. On Tuesday it said it will build the $28-million facility in Red Bluff, Calif., instead.

That's 92 new jobs for California. Every bit helps.

Then there was Maruchan Inc., the instant noodle and soup maker, announcing groundbreaking for a 400,000-square-foot plant in Irvine. The Japanese company had been looking in Mexico and elsewhere in the United States but decided to remain in Southern California instead.

And that should mean about 100 new jobs.

Then there was Amgen Inc., the biotechnology company. It plans to add 1,000 jobs over the next year, with most of those new hires at its corporate offices in Thousand Oaks, where approximately 2,100 are now employed.

And then there was Hughes Aircraft, one of the largest industrial employers in California. Announcing a moratorium on layoff notices for at least six months beginning Oct. 1, the giant firm also said that it plans to keep its headquarters in Los Angeles because of the legislative measures passed earlier this month to make California competitive.

Which leads us to the California Legislature:

Mini-Trend 2: State Legislature, please stand up and take a bow. You deserve it. You got a lot done this year.

This newspaper has written many editorials on what a poor job the Legislature was doing and how it should do the job better. This past session you lawmakers did it better. You got a measure of workers' comp reform passed--not the perfect bill, certainly, but substantially better than the insane system the state has been suffering under for years.

And then you passed a significant manufacturing and investment tax credit, and that could really help the economy. Even if in dollars it doesn't quite add up to the gross national product of Germany, it was the direction--indeed, the thought--that counted.

And you passed some new laws streamlining the state environmental review and compliance process--much overdue, much needed.

Is the state out of the woods? Heck, no; and as for the Legislature, despite its successful summer of '93, it ought to examine its ways and means via the proposal of state Sen. Lucy Killea (I-San Diego) that would establish a Constitution Revision Commission. There are some good, talented and hard-working people in Sacramento--but is this governmental structure adequate to the strenuous demands of the times?

But not to end on a down note: This year, in California, some good things are happening.

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