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Our View: State’s virus response plagued by bureaucratic bumbling

By   /   Friday, January 8th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Our View: State’s virus response plagued by bureaucratic bumbling

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What’s really frustrating for Central Coast business owners is the way California continues to be heavy on tax and regulation and light on services and delivery.

The state’s COVID-19 response has put businesses through the ringer time and again, with opening and closing and reopening orders. Now that things are out of control again, the squeeze is back on.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration have taken the virus seriously, and their quick moves in the spring saved lives. That’s more than can be said for many state governments. But the entire pandemic response has been plagued by the sort of administrative incompetence Californians know all too well from their dealings with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The vaccine rollout is an example of this disjointed response. Businesses are counting on vaccination as their ultimate lifeline, but there seems to be no urgency to getting needles into arms. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Jan. 4 that just one third of the state’s 1.3 million vaccine doses have been administered, and he didn’t have a clear explanation for the holdup.

Thousands of businesses seeking state grants have faced on-again, off-again processing of their applications as the portal for supplying documents keeps crashing. It was expected to open again on Jan. 6 and it’s possible that the application deadline, delayed once, will be delayed again.

For employers and employees, unemployment benefits are a disaster. The woefully unprepared state system screwed thousands of deserving claimants and paid out perhaps $2 billion in fraudulent claims. Now millions of innocent Californians have had their benefits frozen while the state tries to get a handle on the fraud.

The Central Coast deserves better treatment. The first path to that would be for the state to recognize the tri-county region as a separate area for pandemic reopening purposes, and give local officials more flexibility when it comes to lockdowns.

And Sacramento must recognize that it is spending more and delivering less. A statewide commission on government effectiveness is in order.

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