Legislative report card promotes truth to protect taxpayers

In football, defensive coaches tell their players that the best way to avoid missing a tackle is to keep their eye on the ball carrier’s belly button.

The runner may duck, weave, or spin but the belly button is always at the center.

This is a fitting metaphor for the annual Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association legislative scorecard.

Politicians will try all the dance moves they know in an effort to get to the tax-and-spend end zone, but report cards like ours hold them accountable to the people who matter most: the taxpayers who elected them.

In 2019, many taxes were stopped short of the goal line.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 would have lowered the two-thirds vote for bonds and parcel taxes to 55 percent and thus fundamentally altered Proposition 13 in the process.

Had it been approved, it would have resulted in billions of dollars of additional property tax increases, above and beyond the one percent cap established by Proposition 13.

Thankfully, it was fell ten votes short of passage and was therefore defeated.

Other taxes that were tackled in the 2019 session included taxes on handguns and ammunition, water, soda, a sales tax on services, and a severance tax on oil, taxing it as it comes out of the ground.

However, victories in the Capitol are always short-lived.

With tax-and-spend politicians now holding a commanding two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, the pressure to give in to new taxes is even greater.

Indeed, taxes on the purchase of a new car battery and a surcharge of up to 80 cents per month on cell phone bills are set to be imposed after legislation was approved this year.

Introduced back in 2007, the report card is meant to draw attention to these taxes and other legislation important to taxpayers.

HJTA’s 2019 scorecard is based on a list of nine bills and makes it easy to see who is a friend to taxpayers or beholden to the special interests that pervade the state Capitol.

Beyond some of the tax increases listed above, other bills include those that make it easier for local governments to increase sales taxes, as well as eliminating important disclosures regarding bonds and taxes currently required in the ballot label.

Given the policy breadth of the bills listed above, it should come as no surprise that the 2019 scorecard was nothing short of abysmal.

Eighty-two of 120 legislators failed the scorecard while only 25 got a grade of “A.”

Of these, 15 legislators received the coveted and difficult to achieve perfect score in 2019: Assemblymembers Bill Brough, Vince Fong, Tom Lackey, Devon Mathis, Melissa Melendez, Jay Obernolte, and Randy Voepel, and state Senators Pat Bates, Ling-Ling Chang, Shannon Grove, Brian Jones, Jim Nielsen, Jeff Stone and Scott Wilk.

Increasingly, party affiliation is not always an indicator of sympathy toward taxpayer issues.

For the first time ever an Assembly Democrat, Cottie Petrie-Norris, received a 100 percent perfect score on our scorecard. Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva also received an “A” grade.

Conversely, Republican Assemblyman Chad Mayes received a “D.”

To view the 2019 Legislative Report Card, and find which representatives should be proud of their grades and which would rather not post it on the fridge, please go to www.hjta.org where the scores can be found under “Hot Topics.”

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (hjta.org).