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Ueberroth Unveils Plan to Rekindle Job Growth

September 07, 2003|Scott Martelle | Times Staff Writer

Citing job-creation as key to jump-starting the state's economy, former sports czar Peter V. Ueberroth on Saturday proposed a five-year tax rebate program for businesses that add at least 10 new jobs to their payrolls.

The "California Works Again" rebates would come in quarterly payments equal to half of the state income tax withheld from paychecks for new jobs that pay at least $30,000 a year and that offer basic health benefits.

Businesses with more than 100 employees would receive tax credits instead. The jobs would have to exist at least a year to qualify for the program.

Campaign aides estimated that a company creating the minimum 10 jobs at $30,000 a year would receive a rebate of about $1,910 per year. A company creating 10 jobs with $75,000 salaries would receive a $12,250 rebate per year. A company creating 10 jobs at $175,000 a year would receive a rebate of $50,675 per year.

Speaking in Costa Mesa at the second of his town hall issues forums, Ueberroth said the plan -- which also would apply to nonprofit groups -- would spur the economy, bring in fresh tax revenue and cost the state nothing.

"California gets a check, and half of it comes back to help [the business owner] continue to grow his business," Ueberroth said. "Let's keep a positive cycle. We're on a negative cycle in almost everything we do."

At least one expert, though, doubted such rebates would create many jobs.

"My opinion is that it would not have this tremendous effect," said David Newton, a professor of entrepreneurial finance at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and owner of a small Internet company.

"You dangle $1,900 in front of me and I'm not going to jump up and down and say I'm going to hire more people."

Ueberroth said he also would create a system of jobs commissioners, with one overall position based in Sacramento and a local commissioner for each legislative district. The unpaid officials would help businesses navigate the state bureaucracy -- which Ueberroth believes is a disincentive to business growth.

The two proposals, he said, are the first of 20 specific suggestions he intends to offer before the Oct. 7 recall election, each geared toward balancing the state budget and expanding the economy by making life easier for California businesses.

Appearing relaxed and more animated than he has so far in the campaign, Ueberroth spoke to more than 50 people who had signed up through the campaign's Web site.

Although many of the questions were screened -- Ueberroth said he had not seen them -- several members of the audience asked spontaneous questions, including one about Ueberroth's flat performance in the campaign's debut debate Wednesday. Citing his political inexperience, Ueberroth admitted he had not done well and said he'd be stronger in the next one.

Ueberroth said he would sign a no-new-tax pledge -- something he had not offered to do before, although he has opposed raising taxes to help balance the budget. And he said he would unveil television ads today that would begin airing statewide this week.

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