Tuesday, February 24, 2015
IN MY OPINION (Column)
People Believe That Government Wastes Money Because It Does
By JON COUPAL
According to a 2014 Gallup poll, Americans believe that their state government wastes 42 cents of every tax dollar. However, here in California, the political elite dismiss citizens’ widespread concerns about waste and, instead, complain that the taxes they collect from beleaguered taxpayers are not enough. This complaint is hard to understand given that California has the highest income tax rate in America as well as the highest state sales tax rate. Oh, and did I mention that we also have the highest gas tax in the United States?
Notwithstanding this heavy tax burden, our political elites in Sacramento have recently put forward numerous proposals to raise taxes even higher, including new taxes on services, property, gas, oil and tobacco. Apparently, it has never occurred to them that perhaps they should address the endemic waste, fraud and abuse that permeates all levels of government in California.
To set the record straight, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation has released a new report titled Follow the Money 2014, documenting numerous specific examples of government waste that cumulatively add up to billions of dollars.
Politicians and bureaucrats are likely to ignore this information while continuing to demand more money, but taxpayers should hold them accountable for the mismanagement of our state. The report includes instances of waste such as $848 million in overpayments by CalWORKs, $194 million in uncollected bills at the state toxics agency and University of California officials who seem to believe they should not have to disclose how they spend billions in taxpayer funds.
While the report sets forth numerous examples of waste, fraud and abuse, it still represents the tip of the iceberg. Last year’s report for 2013 exposed instances of waste, fraud and abuse was disheartening enough, but here we are in 2014 seeing that politicians have squandered billions of dollars more.
When taxpayers hear politicians talking about the need for “new revenues,” HJTA’s Follow the Money report provides a strong counterpoint as to why higher taxes are unjustified. Despite the explosion of taxing and spending, our roads are ranked among the worst. Although education spending has nearly doubled on a per capita basis since 1970, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation gave our state an “F” for effectiveness per dollar spent.
Instead of devoting their energy to concocting new schemes to tax people more, California policymakers instead should channel their attention in a constructive way and focus on real solutions to our state’s chronically high unemployment and poverty. And as the Follow the Money Report makes clear, our state leaders also need to focus on how they use the abundant resources given to them by taxpayers in ways that are neither wasteful not fraudulent.
Until that happens, taxpayers are well within their rights to reject any and all new tax proposals.
Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company