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With less than 16 months remaining in Governor Schwarzenegger’s tenure, political pundits are starting to talk about him in the past tense, as if his administration is already over.

I believe this is short-sighted.  In my view, the Governor still has an opportunity to create a more efficient government and make positive changes that will last far beyond his term.  As we look for ways to solve our long-term budget problems moving forward and ways to create more jobs and help government run more smoothly, here are five ideas that I believe the Governor should consider to save taxpayer dollars and leave a lasting legacy:

1.) Suspend the implementation of AB 32 until businesses and consumers can afford it.  AB 32 is the state’s burdensome global warming law that is making California’s hostile business climate even worse.  The state should not enforce AB 32 until alternative energy options such as solar are as affordable for consumers as traditional energy sources.  This would preserve jobs and save our economy several billions of dollars in the long-run.

2.) Simplify California’s income tax by imposing a flat rate of 6 percent on residents.  Those who make less than $30,000 would not pay any income tax.  California’s tax code is very complex, confusing taxpayers and making our state an expensive place to live.  In fact, the Governor has suggested the state consider imposing a flat tax.

3.) Establish more public-private partnerships.  We can make a significant dent in our budget problems if we partner with the private sector to deliver some government services, such as highway construction and senior care.  There is no reason why some jobs should only be performed by the government at greater cost to taxpayers. Take the Governor’s recent announcement of state parks closures, for example.  I believe the public and private sector can come together to help keep parks like the historic Marshall Gold Discovery Park in Coloma open and help them operate more efficiently.

4.) Impose sunsets for all boards and commissions.  Require the state to evaluate every five years whether or not we need a particular board.  It should not take enormous public pressure to eliminate boards such as the recently eliminated Integrated Waste Management Board, which paid board members six-figure salaries for part-time work.  Justifying one’s existence should be an ongoing occurrence in state government.

5.) Harness California’s existing oil reserves to bring new revenue to the state without higher taxes.  We can obtain new oil in an environmentally safe way through the use of existing oil platforms off California’s coastline.  As our nation imports more oil from hostile countries like Venezuela, it makes no sense to ignore our supplies here at home.

These are just some of the many ideas that the Governor can champion in the coming months as he thinks about his legacy.  By embracing these common sense ideas, he can create a better future for our state.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, represents the 4th Assembly District in the California Legislature.

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