Elon Musk is not just another CEO looking to turn a buck for the next quarter's shareholder report. He thinks big thoughts and, usually, backs them up with bold action. By all accounts, Musk is a visionary, which is exactly what should worry California's political leaders. This visionary's vision, and the 6,500 middle-class jobs it promised, apparently doesn't include the Golden State.
The founder and driving force behind Tesla Motors' rise as a leader in the luxury electric car market has chosen to leave California to build his new $5 billion factory for making electric car batteries. The formal announcement came Thursday that Tesla's new plant will be located near Reno.
It should come as no real surprise despite the last-minute, all-out effort from Gov. Jerry Brown and others to convince Tesla it would be better off here. But that push only came after news that the Golden State hadn't even made the final four states.
To be fair, the Legislature did consider a bipartisan package of regulatory and financial incentives for the battery factory offered by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, and Sen. Ted Gaines, a Republican. Unfortunately, lawmakers adjourned over Labor Day weekend without acting on the bills.
Although he wasn't specific, Gaines indicated the adjournment probably didn't matter. He told the Sacramento Bee that while legislators were considering revamping the California Environmental Quality Act, as well as assorted investment-tax and job-training tax credits, Tesla had made additional demands "that I think were beyond what California could do."
That should embarrass the state since Tesla was spawned in the Bay Area and in a few short years it has become one of the major players in Silicon Valley.
But in the end is appears that even for a big thinker such as Musk, business is business and the truth is the business climate in California is lousy.
Nearly every reputable survey of business leaders ranks California in the bottom two or three states for business climate, last in most of them. Toyota, a recent example among many, has decided to relocate its California operations to Texas.
We are not arguing that the state stop all regulation of business, far from it. California is a great place to be. We know businesses want to be here. But it is time -- well past time, in fact -- for California to help them do it.
We urge the governor to let this moment inform and motivate a bipartisan selection of lawmakers and business leaders in an ongoing working group to critically examine everything from business tax structure to regulation and to recommend reasonable and feasible actions that could help California help its business climate become more competitive.