Senator Steinberg I realize that you are not inclined to listen to the concerns of ordinary taxpayers so you will probably ignore this message — hmmm perhaps if we called ourselves a taxpayers "union" that would get your attention. Also if you do read this it will probably not be for several weeks as immediately after the California Senate voted on the budget amendments you jetted off to Hawaii.
In the political arena citizens have come to expect a certain amount of dissembling from their elected officials. But even expecting a "normal" level of nonsense from politicians there are certain moments when we hear something so profoundly inane from elected representatives that our jaws drop.
On Thursday you addressed reporters in the hallway of the Capitol to discuss the schedule of taking the vote on the negotiated budget amendments. One of your observations unprompted by any reporter’s question was as follows:
"In California one of the things we need to fix is the fact that we make these decisions with one hand tied behind our backs. The two-thirds requirement does not allow [for] a real discussion about revenue. And I think the people from what I’ve been told and what I’ve been hearing over the last several days when it comes to the cuts side we’re saying enough is enough. Whenever this is over with whatever time we are able to buy here we are going to work to fix what we know is broken about this system."
So Senator you say the two-thirds vote has prevented a real discussion about state revenue. Excuse us but taxpayers clearly remember you presiding over the State Senate back in February — if you have already forgotten you really do need a Hawaiian vacation — when the California Legislature passed the largest tax increase ever enacted by any statehouse in the history of America and it did so with a two-thirds vote.
How is it then that you can say with a straight face that the two-thirds vote is a barrier to revenue increases? The two-thirds vote certainly hasn’t prevented California from being one of the highest taxed state in America. If it has provided any protection at all it has merely prevented California’s economy from being transformed by you and your special interest government employee union backers into an American version of the North Korean lifestyle.
Fortunately the majority of Californians do not share your views on the two-thirds vote. It remains overwhelmingly popular in poll after poll. This support for the two-thirds vote is no doubt based at least in part on the continued perception that Sacramento’s woes are due to overspending and not lack of revenue.
About the same time that you were holding court before reporters on Thursday Rasmussen issued a poll of Californians showing that seventy-eight percent (78%) say a bigger problem is the unwillingness of politicians to control government spending rather than voters’ unwillingness to pay enough in taxes. Only 13% say voter reluctance to pay more taxes is a bigger problem.
Rather than focus on undermining one of the few protections that California taxpayers enjoy so that you can increase taxes perhaps as soon as you return from Hawaii you ought to focus on the long-neglected reforms this state so desperately needs. If you are looking for instances of government waste fraud and abuse in the use of taxpayers’ dollars this is the one area where California already suffers an embarrassment of riches.
Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest taxpayer organization — which is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and promoting taxpayers’ rights.