Tax Policy

An Attack is an Opportunity to Correct

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March 12  |  Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Attacks are often opportunities to correct, rather than cower.

A wonderful opportunity recently occurred from a somewhat surprising source: A column in the well-respected San Francisco Chronicle that referenced our 11th Annual CEO Survey. The columnist opined: “… that Silicon Valley somehow operates in a self-contained world of greatness, where it takes no responsibility for the very problems it complains about.”

What a head-scratcher.

Here’s what our nearly 400 member companies have done to address broad community issues.

On housing, the Leadership Group:

  • Created the nation’s most innovative Housing Trust Fund, which has raised nearly $70 million in voluntary contributions, leveraging $2 billion in private development, already assisting more than 10,000 families.
  • Was one of two Co-Chairs of the 2002 $2.1 billion statewide Housing Bond and the 2006 $2.85 billion statewide Housing Bond, which provided housing opportunities for more than 200,000 low income Californians.
  • Is currently convening major Silicon Valley stakeholders to determine what meaningful and measurable role we can play to help eradicate homelessness in Silicon Valley. Homelessness is not a “bottom-line business issue,” per se, but a moral imperative to help the most vulnerable in our Valley.

On traffic, the Leadership Group:

  • Has led, not just supported, four successive sales tax measures collectively contributing $10 billion for regional transportation improvements, including:
    • A 1984 measure to fund Highways 85, 101 and 237.
    • A 1996 measure to fund 19 key road and transit improvements, all delivered on-time and on-budget.
    • Measures in 2000 and 2008 to fund the Silicon Valley BART extension and major Caltrain improvements.
  • Currently, we are convening stakeholder meetings for a new traffic relief measure slated for the 2016 ballot.

When one considers that businesses in Silicon Valley pay more than 40 cents of every dollar in sales taxes collected, this investment in our communities are costs we cannot pass on as we compete globally.

On taxes, the Leadership Group has:

  • Supported more tax increase proposals than it has ever opposed, including measures we have championed for education parcel taxes and school bonds, housing, homelessness, transportation, open space, parks, flood protection, clean water and even general fund revenue for local governments.

Yes, attacks can be opportunities. My goal is not to attack back, but to dialogue rather than to give in to divisiveness. The Chronicle columnist would have known better had he picked up the phone before picking up his pen.

CEO Survey: Seeking Solutions

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March 5  |  Education, Federal Issues, Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If we want to increase employment, then let’s learn from employers.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group conducts a “CEO Business Climate Survey,” seeking direct input from the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive our region’s economy.

This year, 222 executives responded. The results are enlightening:

  • Last year, 2013, 62 percent added jobs in Silicon Valley, with only 9 percent subtracting jobs.
  • This year, 2014, 59 percent expect to add jobs here in Silicon Valley, with only 4 percent anticipating job losses.

Indeed, Silicon Valley continues to lead California and our country when it comes to job growth and economic recovery.

So what do employers, and our employees, need from policy makers to stay successful in innovation and job creation?

  • Locally, CEOs call for improvements on our local streets, roads and transit systems so that employees and their families can get around. We need quality schools for our children, and homes that working families can afford.
  • At the state level, we need meaningful investments in infrastructure to repair aging roads and ease traffic congestion. We need sensible solutions to the high cost of housing and investments in K-12 and higher education.
  • From Congress, we need immigration reform that ensures the best and the brightest can compete for our companies rather than against us, and tax reform that is fair to workers and keep our companies competitive.

This year’s CEO Business Climate Survey underscores that executives are willing to speak out, to search for solutions, to invest in answers. Silicon Valley’s innovation does not end within the walls of our companies, it extends through the neighborhoods in our communities.

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Priorities for 2014: Comprehensive Business Tax Reform

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January 8  |  Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Ironically, recent events in Washington, D.C. have led many to believe that “Nothing is certain but the death of tax reform.”

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we are concerned that this may be the case for business tax reform. American businesses deserve better, and America’s economy needs better.

Allow me to explain.

For the past four years, a bipartisan, bicameral effort has been underway to develop meaningful, comprehensive business tax reform that is fair to U.S. businesses and would make American employers competitive abroad.

Democrat Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan have invested four years – working together in a productive, positive way – meeting every week that they are in D.C. on meaningful, thoughtful reform.

Senator Baucus, who planned to retire at the end of 2014 from the Senate, had also viewed this multi-year effort as the capstone of his career. Then, just two weeks ago, to the surprise of many, President Obama announced his plans to appoint Senator Baucus as America’s next Ambassador to China. Regardless of the merits of that selection, losing the Senator at this time makes meaningful tax reform – after four years of work – a much steeper climb.

Keeping the Senator in the Senate, working to pass the first comprehensive tax reform legislation in 30 years, would serve our nation much better than a post in China.

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The Leadership Group’s Top Five Priorities for 2014

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December 18  |  Education, Federal Issues, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation, Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Make your goals transparent and accountable.

Each year, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group creates a three-year rolling business plan. Designed by our 392 members, it sets priorities in 10 distinct areas in which we can add value to the Valley, state and nation: education, energy, environment, federal issues, local government, health care, housing, tax policy, transportation and the community. All told, we have 62 distinct deliverables in our rolling business plan.

Each initiative is selected, and each effort must be measurable.

For 2014, our top five priorities were set last week at our Annual Shareholders Meeting.

  • Number 1: Work for comprehensive U.S. tax reform that is fair to taxpayers at home and keeps us competitive abroad.
  • Number 2: Strengthen California’s higher education systems
  • Number 3: Advance the BART extension from Berryessa to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Number 4: Fight for meaningful immigration reform
  • Number 5: Enhance California’s economic competitiveness through our 14-member Silicon Valley Caucus serving in our state Legislature.

By making our goals public – both to our members and to the broader community of citizens and stakeholders – we make ourselves accountable to everyone in our community.

To view our complete set of priorities in each of our ten priority areas, please visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s website. We would welcome the opportunity to engage you and your company in our work.

We face tremendous challenges in 2014, with plenty of opportunities to work together to forge our future success. We do this by setting clear goals that make us both transparent and accountable.

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Abolish the Tax on Medical Devices

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October 16  |  Health Policy, Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Taxing Innovation Tempers Job Creation.

One of the most troubling elements of the Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare, was the tax imposed on America’s medical device companies. Since this $29 billion tax on innovation was passed in 2010, large numbers of Senate and House members, Democrats and Republicans, have spoken out against it. Sadly, unless this destructive tax is repealed, the damage remains. Allow me to count the ways:

  • First, the $29 billion tax on America’s medical device companies applies to a company’s revenues – not their profits – which hurts small and entrepreneurial employers especially hard.
  • Second, at 2.3 percent of revenue the amount of the tax is troubling. For every $100 in revenue, the tax is $2.30, even if the company makes no profit.
  • Third, dollars are finite. The tax leaves less money for research and development, hiring employees, clinical trials and manufacturing.
  • Fourth, more than 400,000 Americans are employed by our robust medical device industry. Since 80 percent of medical device companies have fewer than 50 employees, we place thousands of small, innovative employers at risk.
  • Finally, the innovation derived from our medical device companies save lives, extend lives and improve the quality of our lives. Think artificial knees and hips, imaging machines, arterial stents and numerous other breakthroughs, jeopardized by a tax on innovation.

For those in Congress who have over-reached in their desire to abolish Obamacare, let it go. But for those in the House and Senate who would bypass this opportunity to abolish a damaging and destructive tax on innovation, let’s fix what should never have been enacted.

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Time for a Helicopter

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October 9  |  Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … We need a helicopter.

In 1992, I was a young staff member to a Central Valley legislator. George Deukmejian, a conservative Republican from Los Angeles, was our Governor.

I will never forget the Governor’s leadership in personally championing a nickel-a-gallon gas tax to fund our crumbling and congested transportation system. He even took to the skies, in a helicopter, to give “traffic reports” to underscore the need for additional transportation funds.

Regrettably, the gas tax was not indexed for inflation, so two decades later, it has lost almost all of its buying power. As a result of our under-investment in transportation, the most recent national study shows that the three cities in America with p the worst road conditions are Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. In San Jose, 56 percent of the roads are rated poor – or worse.

It’s past time to re-invest in our roads. If we don’t do so soon, it might be time to buy your own helicopter.

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State of the Union Address

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February 12  |  Education, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Silicon Valley hopes to hear these issues addressed in tonight’s State of the Union address:

  1. Immigration reform; passage of a comprehensive plan that includes high skilled workers with  bi-partisan, bicameral support.
  2. Comprehensive tax reform; ensuring U.S.  companies, domestic and international, can successfully compete and create jobs.
  3. Education reform;  so that kids born in America are equipped with the knowledge to compete with kids educated around the world.
  4. Cybersecurity; that addresses the safety of America and the economic strengths of American companies
  5. Infrastructure; investments to rebuild America’s transportation, energy and water systems to keep Americans and America’s economy moving.

These are the pressing issues facing our nation’s innovation economy today that Silicon Valley hopes to hear from President Obama tonight.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

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January 2  |  Federal Issues, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . What have you done for me lately?

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, our 375 member company CEO’s deserve a strong return on their investment as we work to strengthen job creation in our region, state and nation.

In 2012, we delivered, with 38 quantifiable goals completed in our business plan. These included the direct flight between San Jose and Tokyo on ANA, $900 million in federal funds for our BART extension, $1 billion to improve and electrify Cal-train and the launch of a regional patent office in silicon valley in 2013.

All good, but now it’s time to focus on 2013, with equally ambitious goals. These include modernizing the California Environmental Quality Act, and resolving long-sought priorities in Washington, D.C., like immigration reform for highly-skilled workers and comprehensive corporate tax reform.

We don’t look back to applaud 2012 successes. Instead, we look forward with the quiet confidence that we have a firm foundation to aim even higher to strengthen our region, state and nation.

For a full list of 2012 accomplishments and 2013 goals, check out our web site at svlg.org. Better yet, join us. There is much to do, and much we can do together.

Presidential Priorities for Silicon Valley

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October 22  |  Government Relations, Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Silicon Valley CEO’s have helped both presidential candidates, but will both candidates help Silicon Valley?

When it comes to Silicon Valley and America’s innovation economy, let’s not forget the issues we need the next commander in chief to champion from the oval office:

* First, a skilled workforce. Americans deserve a great education system for our kids and a smart immigration system to attract the smartest kids from around the globe. It’s not one or the other; it’s both.

* Second, globally competitive tax policies. Unlike competitor nations, our corporate tax rates actually discourage our global companies from bringing earnings home. Fix it.

* Third, we need a national cyber-security policy that protects our citizens and engages our companies.

* Fourth, America needs a comprehensive energy policy, which includes traditional sources while encouraging renewable sources.

* Fifth, we must invest in roads, water, transit and other forms of infrastructure that re-build our cities, alleviate congestion and keep our valley moving.

* Sixth, health care reform must bend the cost curve for employees and employers, and congress needs to drop the tax penalty they placed on medical device companies whose innovation and research save lives.

Both presidential candidates come often to Silicon Valley, but all too often treat us like an ATM machine to simply take our money. They need to also take our ideas if we are to grow America’s innovation economy.

Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s 35th Anniversary

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July 11  |  Government Relations, Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought… Are you making your mark or simply marking time?

Thursday July 18, marks the 35th anniversary of when HP Co-founder David Packard created the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Today, 375 CEOs personally engage to strengthen the economic health and quality of life of our region, state and nation.

Through Packard’s vision, the impacts have been measurable:

* In the 1980s, the Leadership Group co-led Measure A, which built Highway 85 and improved 101 and 237.

* In the 1990s, the Leadership Group led Measures A and B, delivering 19 key road and rail improvements on-time and on-budget.

* In 2000 and 2008, the Leadership Group co-led sales tax measures to fund the capital construction and operations costs to bring BART to Silicon Valley.

* In 2000, the Leadership Group established the Housing Trust Fund, which has already helped 10,000 families secure homes in high-cost Silicon Valley.

* And most recently, the Leadership Group led the effort to secure a Regional Patent Office in Silicon Valley.

Can private citizens truly make a difference? As David Packard proved, we can – and we must – if our Valley will continue to drive the earth’s Innovation Economy.