Thursday, October 15, 2020

California Needs More Taxpayer Advocates

The amount of tax and fee increases proposed each year is staggering. According to the California Tax Foundation, $273 billion in taxes and fees were proposed in 2018, another $20.4 billion in 2019, and almost $83 billion in 2020. Except for this year, 2020, the year of COVID, all the tax- and fee-increase proposals came during a time when California had consecutive record-high budgets, robust reserves and operating budget surpluses.

When I was elected to the State Senate, you told me to serve as your taxpayer advocate, working to block unnecessary taxes and save taxpayer dollars.

During my very first months in the Senate, I helped stop the proposed cell phone tax. That bill would have increased the existing cell phone tax and expanded it to all phone and data lines, for an overall tax increase to consumers of almost 600% per month. At that time, the state was running a $9 billion surplus, so why did the majority feel the need to increase taxes?

Also as your taxpayer advocate, I coauthored a bill (AB 162) prohibiting the unelected members of the Public Utilities Commission from taxing text messages.

My antipathy for the endless parade of tax and fee proposals is not because I don’t support their goals. In fact, the goals for the revenues are usually for things I support, like better roads and schools, clean water, etc. However, even though California is one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation, when you take into account the cost of living, California has the highest poverty rate. Truly, spending isn’t the problem; it’s that all the spending is not being prioritized properly. At all.

Why are we throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into the high-speed rail project every year while putting comparative pennies into forest management?

We have a massive deficit this year and anticipate worse next year. We can’t keep leaning on hard-working Californians to bleed themselves dry so legislators in Sacramento can keep raising taxes, spend more and more money and consolidate their power even further.

It’s well past time to find real solutions to the states’ needs, solutions that don’t simply count on raising taxes every time a liberal legislator wants to spend more. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, Californians can’t afford that type of solution anymore.