The “Hundred Years War” was a series of conflicts for control over Western Europe and England during the middle ages, circa 1337 to 1453. The relentless hostilities against California taxpayers by progressive politicians may not have a 100-year history, but it sure feels like it.
Just last week, far-left legislators and their ideological allies proposed another increase in the income tax on high earners. Assembly Bill 1253 would impose tiered tax increases on residents with annual incomes over $1 million. If approved, the income tax rate for Californians making over $1 million would increase from 13.3% to 14.3%. Those who earn more would be hit with even higher increases. (Never mind that California already has the highest income tax rate in America and Californians are leaving the state in droves.)
There are two reasons why all this may sound familiar. First, it is identical to a proposal from the same progressive legislator — Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles — that was introduced last year. Fortunately, that bill died due to lack of support, not only from Republicans, but from both moderate Democrats and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Nonetheless, Santiago and his far-left organizations such as Courage California are trying again with, coincidentally he claims, the same bill with the same number: AB 1253.
The second reason this may seem like déjà vu is that just last week this column reported on a novel $22 billion “wealth tax” proposal that would tax as much as 1.5% of a person’s “household wealth” above a certain threshold. ACA 8 would be the first tax of its kind in America. The “justification” for the tax is less for the generation of needed revenue (California is already swimming in tax revenue) but to “equalize” wealth in a way that would do Lenin proud.
The point here is that progressives are relentless in their pursuit of other people’s money. And it makes no difference if there is a severe budget deficit or a massive budget surplus. The guiding principle for the spending lobby is simple: You have it, they want it, and they will use whatever means necessary to take it. It is for that reason that, each year, taxpayer advocates must fight many of the same battles we have fought in previous legislative sessions.
The best example of “Groundhog Day” recurrence of tax increase proposals is Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters (HJTA Legislative Report Card: F). ACA 1 repeals one of the most important protections in Proposition 13 by lowering the vote needed to pass costly local bonds and special taxes. Currently it takes a two-thirds vote of the electorate to impose these higher costs on taxpayers. ACA 1 would cut that vote threshold to just 55 percent to pass tax hikes for a myriad of purposes.
If that too sounds familiar, it’s because it is the same bill taxpayer groups had to fight last year. That is when ACA 1 was defeated on the Assembly floor thanks to unified opposition from both homeowners and the business community.
And if ACA 1 sounds familiar from last year, it is because the identical proposal was introduced as ACA 4 the year before. These repeated assaults on taxpayers are harder to kill than a bad guy in a Bruce Willis action movie.
Those who fight for the interests of taxpayers, homeowners, private property and free enterprise are often asked whether we get weary of having to fight the same fights year after year — especially because, as California becomes more progressive, those battles grow more difficult. The answer is simple: It is irrelevant that these battles are reoccurring. We fight them because we remember how great California used to be and believe it can be once again.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.