IN MY OPINION (Column)
New Taxes Are Not the Answer to Budget Woes
By JON COUPAL
It has been over a month since the constitutional deadline passed to approve a new budget and members of the Legislature have gone on vacation. Apparently, not many Californians believe lawmakers have earned this time off — a recent Field Poll shows only 27% regard their performance positively, while 57% have a negative view.
While state representatives have decided they would rather go to the beach than wrestle with the state budget crisis, California families are not having nearly as much fun. They are being slammed by increased costs for everything from food to gasoline. Many are struggling to hold onto their homes. There can be little doubt why three out of four Californians say we are headed in the wrong direction.
But things can get a lot worse if the majority in the Legislature get their way. These politicians want to increase the burden on California taxpayers by $9 billion, which averages out to $1,000 in new taxes for a family of four.
Californians are already extremely generous to government. Our state ranks 8th highest in the nation in tax burden according the Washington, D.C-based Tax Foundation Although taxpayers are sending record amounts of tax dollars to Sacramento, this is not enough to keep up with spending. State outlays are up 44% over the past 5 years. Now that the economy is not generating enough revenue so that politicians can spend as much as they like, what is their response? Instead of tightening their belts the way California families are forced to do when they run short on funds, these politicians want to raise income taxes, taxes on businesses and they even want to do away with the tax exemption for children.
Sacramento politicians do not have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem. Now is not the time to raise taxes on families and small businesses. The State Department of Finance reports that the state has been suffering an ongoing net loss of citizens over the past four years. The proposed tax increases are a recipe for disaster for our economy and those taxpayers who have not already fled the state.
Politicians are feeling the heat. Unfortunately the heat is coming from special interests — providers of government services and those who contract with government — who clearly benefit from more spending. Those who profit from public spending do not want to see their gravy train derailed by having reasonable limitations placed on Sacramento’s ability to tax and spend. Some of these special interests are now engaged in expensive media advertising campaigns in an effort to whip up support for their retaining and expanding their piece of the public spending pie.
While the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is not able to match the media campaign of the special interests, whose pockets are fat with taxpayer dollars, it is very important that all taxpayer interests — both the grassroots homeowners and the business community — do what they can to educate Californians about the enormous burden we are carrying. For that reason, HJTA is funding a statewide radio campaign to get out the facts about the state budget, and how much average taxpayers have at stake in the final outcome.
Our media campaign will also provide support to those brave lawmakers in the minority party who are truly the last bastion against cruel and unwarranted tax hikes.
Public pressure is the only way that the cowardly lawmakers in the majority can be compelled to solve the budget problem without increasing the tax burden, especially the burden on California families.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company