Jason Barrett
Senior Associate, Public Policy Analyst 
Business and California and Public Policy
Jason Barrett is a senior associate and public policy analyst at the Milken Institute. He monitors political activity in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and analyzes its effects on economic, financial and regulatory policies. Barrett seeks to provide decision-makers and Institute stakeholders with key information regarding relevant legislation and policies at the...
read bio

Reforming permitting, promoting prosperity

By: Jason Barrett
July 23, 2014

It’s no secret that California suffers from an image problem when it comes to our business climate. Survey after survey after survey paint pictures of a state that overtaxes, overregulates, and, when it comes to economic growth, underperforms. Even as voters have shown a willingness to pay high taxes for the right services, business owners, both large and small, have not. 

Reforms aimed at taxes and regulations tend to face lengthy political battles in Sacramento. So how, then, can municipalities improve the ties between government and businesses? The answer lies in expediting a process that all new and expanding businesses must endure: permitting.

A new Milken Institute report, Effective Government and Economic Expansion: How California Is Improving Permitting and Communication to Spur Business, explores how other states have streamlined  permitting and improved customer relations. Efforts in Oregon and Washington state are particularly worthy of note, as those states have continued to climb in surveys of business-friendliness.

The report also examines current efforts in California, particularly those spearheaded by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and the California Environmental Protection Agency, to make it easier for businesses to open their doors. Through “one-stop shopping,” streamlined approval systems, and enhanced customer support, agencies in California are regaining ground lost in the recession.

Changes aren’t just being made at the state level. The report discusses several city-level innovations, including the implementation of technology to provide timely, accurate information on permit applications. With an emphasis on involving customers more directly, agencies are minimizing delays and offering more guidance so the steps can be expedited.

At almost every level of government, efforts are being made to combat the growing sense that California is anti-business. By examining what is working in other states as well as our own, Effective Government and Economic Expansion: How California Is Improving Permitting and Communication to Spur Business can guide officials in coordinating their efforts to expand opportunity.