SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California's Assembly on Monday approved $2 million to eliminate a lengthy backlog of business paperwork in the Secretary of State's office.
Those seeking to start a business in California currently wait more than two months before receiving a response from state officials. The forms must be processed before employees can be hired.
The additional money, approved unanimously, will allow the secretary of state to hire temporary staffers and pay for overtime to process tens of thousands of applications delayed by recent budget cuts.
Business leaders said accelerating processing times will remove one of the administrative hurdles companies face.
"This has been an unnecessary brick wall to business startups and job creation for way too long," said John Kabateck, executive director of the state's chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, who joined Assembly Speaker John Perez at a news conference.
The secretary of state must report to the Legislature each month on the progress made regarding processing times.
Future legislation is expected to require business forms to be processed within five days, which proponents said would make California among the fastest states in the country.
Perez, D-Los Angeles, said lawmakers are reviewing the amount of money needed to prevent future backlogs. They estimate that the Secretary of State's office will need an additional $6 million to $9 million next year to keep pace with applications.
The Assembly transferred $1.2 million out of its operating budget last year to reduce a backlog that led to wait times of more than 80 days.
"This is simply not acceptable," Perez told reporters after the Assembly vote. "Every day that a business owner must wait for their paperwork to be processed is a day where they're not selling to customers, serving clients, hiring workers or contributing to our recovery."
The bill, AB113, now goes to the Senate.