Thursday, January 8, 2009
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Sacramento Bandits Use Every Trick to Get New Taxes
By JON COUPAL
The governor and the majority in the Legislature are continuing to hold up already hard-pressed Californians for more money.
Since we pay some of the highest taxes in the nation and have one of the highest rates of unemployment, one is reminded of the classic western “The Magnificent Seven,” where a bandit gang keeps returning to the same poor village to rob the helpless farmers of what little they possess.
Where are Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner when we really need them? Of course our larcenous politicians would prefer to portray themselves as being like Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to the needy. But several of their proposed tax hikes are highly regressive — hitting low and middle income Californians the hardest.
This is especially true with the schemes to raise gas taxes, sales taxes and the car tax. And who are they giving to? Well, for them, the especially needy include the state’s public employees, who, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are the highest paid in the nation.
While Californians are losing their jobs in a tough economy, leaders of the legislative majority are refusing to consider having state workers take off just two unpaid days per month to help relieve the state budget deficit. Ask the formerly employed workers of Circuit City or Mervyns if they would have preferred a furlough of two days a month in place of their current status: Unemployed. The entitlement mentality of California’s public sector is staggering.
As Assembly and Senate leaders Bass and Steinberg push their high-tax agenda by means fair and foul — they have tried to approve new taxes with a simple majority vote in clear violation of the state constitution and Proposition 13 — other politicians are resorting to psychological warfare.
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has announced that without a new budget all infrastructure projects will be halted and workers laid off.
And, in a letter to state agencies, Controller John Chiang says unless the state gets more money, as early as February 1, he will begin paying the state’s bills with “registered warrants,” or, in everyday language, “IOUs.” Not only would those doing business with the state be paid with these warrants, but honest taxpayers, who have paid their full share of taxes and then some, would receive an IOU in place of a refund.
So instead of tightening government’s belt as the rest of us are doing with our businesses and families, the politicians are holding a gun to the the heads of taxpayers saying, agree to pay more in taxes or get a fistful of IOUs.
However, further analysis shows this be be little more than a scare tactic. Chiang aide Hallye Jordan has told NBC news IOUs are not the only option. Even without a deficit resolution the state could simple delay payment of refunds, possibly up to the constitutional deadline of May 30.
Californians should not give in to these threats or they will find themselves submitting to these bandits every time they return for more. The politicians’ right to tax and spend is upheld only by the good will of the people. This they have forfeited. They must make cuts to bring the budget into balance and give taxpayers a chance to recover, thrive, and eventually produce more tax revenue for government which, at the moment, seems to be these bandits’ only interest.
(The writer is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.)
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company