Because Republican lawmakers stood firm California families over the next twelve months will save about $1200 of their hard-earned money. On the first of July the remainder of the temporary taxes imposed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature two years ago expired. These taxes on income sales and cars would have remained in place had Jerry Brown and Democrats in the Legislature had their way.
Ruling class Democrats pulled out all the stops in an effort to break a solid phalanx of Republican lawmakers who refused the governor’s demand that they provide the votes to place another five years of record high taxes on the ballot. Governor Brown and Senate President Darrell Steinberg went so far as to threaten Republican lawmakers with loss of state services to their districts if they did not fall in line to enable tax increases.
Strangely some commentators have suggested this was a loss for Republicans who they suggest should have used their leverage to promote desperately needed reforms to rein in the spiraling costs to taxpayers of public employee pensions and to place reasonable limits on increases in state spending. In fact Republicans did negotiate with the governor to place his tax increases on the ballot as long as voters were given the option of approving significant reforms that would permanently put an end to state deficits. However the government employee unions to whom both Brown and a majority of legislators owe their election were adamantly opposed to giving voters the option of reforms. And as polls showed public support for extended levies slipping away the union bosses said they would not even support a vote on taxes urging lawmakers instead to directly impose taxes without voter approval.
Still government employees will take no hits as a result of the budget just signed into law. Programs for the needy K-12 education and higher education programs will be slashed in the Democrats’ budget but the state workforce — the highest paid in all 50 states — is fully protected.
Additionally Democrats rammed through over Republican opposition new “fees” on auto registration and on rural residents for fire protection. The future of these and a measure requiring out of state online vendors to collect state income tax are being reviewed by legal experts and are almost certain to be decided in the courts.
However because of the perseverance of Republicans taxpayers can breathe a little easier in what remains a high tax state. It is surprising that more political analysts are not pointing to this as an echo of what happened in Wisconsin where the powerful government employees unions and their sponsored politicians butted heads with Republicans and came off second best. This was acknowledged as a major victory for Republicans and taxpayers and this too can be said of this year’s edition of the California budget crisis.
Looking after the interests of average folks shouldn’t be a partisan issue but today looking at Sacramento it is clear to taxpayers and working families which party’s representatives are wearing the white hats.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.