Of the myriad of proposed tax increases slated for the November ballot there are about half a dozen that potentially could get traction. For now they are behaving like a herd of angry elephants in the forest; you can’t see them yet but you know they are out there and they are dangerous.
These measures whether backed by billionaire elites or powerful government employee unions share one common theme: They all are concerned with the welfare of government without consideration of the taxpayers who must pay the resulting bills.
Government and its extended infrastructure — those who profit from government spending — have become a militant special interest. As tax policy expert Dave Doerr observed some years ago about the state budget process ninety percent of those testifying before the Legislature in support of increased spending are the providers not the recipients of government services.
In Sacramento it is all about pay and benefits for the state workforce and generous contracts and subsidies for the politically well-connected. The money must be kept flowing in ever increasing amounts to support and maintain those in power. Howard Jarvis used to call this the “tax tax tax spend spend spend elect elect elect”‘ cycle.
Where among the dominant Sacramento political class are the advocates for the welfare of regular folks? Where is the outrage that unemployment is nearly 12 percent? Where is the indignation that so many Californians can no longer afford to pay their mortgages? Why is there no dismay over the number of businesses — and the jobs they provide — that our fleeing California’s high taxes and suffocating regulations?
Does anyone not receiving a subsidy form Sacramento feel better off than they did a year ago? Two years ago?
The quality of life for average Californians has been deteriorating every day thanks to record unemployment underachieving schools congested and crumbling highways and uncontrolled illegal immigration. We pay more than the national average for gasoline and utilities and we rank near the top in nearly every area of taxation.
So what have the Sacramento politicians achieved? California has the worst credit of all 50 states unemployment ranks second and surveys show the state is the worst in the nation as a place to do business. We pay more than twice as much as similar states to incarcerate an inmate in our prisons system while with 12 percent of the population we carry over 30 percent of the welfare case load.
Almost totally missing from the vocabulary of these power brokers is the word “jobs.” When jobs are mentioned the word “green” is attached and used to justify astronomically expensive and impractical toys like the HSR the bullet train to nowhere — the primary beneficiaries of which are the usual insiders.
The word that is heard most frequent from the lips of the Sacramento elite is “taxes.” Since they have trouble justifying more money based on their record the power brokers are now playing the “fear card.” The governor is threatening programs the public favors if voters do not approve his tax plan a multi-billion dollar increase that independent analysis reveals will fall mostly on average folks not on the well-healed as the he promised when he announced his proposal.
However regardless of which of the elephantine tax increase proposals charges out of the trees to attack the taxpayer village it will be the middle class and poor who get trampled.
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.