This Week’s Agenda: Shenanigans in the Legislature

Citizens of California are almost always in danger from being victimized by the foolhardy actions of our Legislature. But some weeks are more dangerous than others — and this is one of those weeks.

Why? Under the Joint Rules of the Legislature this is the last week for each house to pass the bills that began in their respective houses also known as the “house of origin.” Thus the environment is ripe for a higher rate of backroom deals anti-taxpayer laws and special interests bills. The only thing they have in common is that rarely do these actions result in any public good at all.

Although hundreds of bills will be part of this legislative scrum this week with sessions going late into the evenings HJTA’s Legislative Director will be monitoring a few specific bills with intense interest because of their threat to taxpayers.

First AB 1500 by Speaker John Perez is a billion dollar tax increase. Being sold as “closing a tax loophole” the proposal nonetheless would be a massive transfer of wealth from California’s beleaguered business community to government coffers. While HJTA is supportive of tax reform any change in the tax law must at a minimum be “revenue neutral” meaning that there would be no net tax revenue increase to the state. As a tax increase this bill would require a two-thirds vote of each house. This means absent a handful of Republicans who defy the strong wishes of their constituencies that the bill will have a hard time clearing its house of origin the California Assembly. Nonetheless the pressure will be intense to grab the tax dollars that this bill would take from businesses because the Legislature has yet to cure its addiction to overspending.

Another bill threatens the victory that property rights advocates won against the redevelopment industry last year. SB 1220 would impose a $75 tax on various filings filled out by homeowners and other property owners for the purpose of funding “affordable housing” programs. But owning property in California is already tough enough. We don’t need another property tax the kind of which is not imposed in any other state. Moreover we believe this to be a backdoor attempt at starting to resurrect redevelopment agencies in California. Those agencies died last year as the result of a Supreme Court ruling and for everyone’s benefit they deserve to remain in the grave.

The upshot is that this is going to be a busy week for our Legislative Director as he roams the halls of the Legislature protecting the interests of taxpayers late into the night. Millions of California homeowners probably don’t know they have their own lobbyist in Sacramento fighting against the special interests and higher taxes. Hopefully the word will get out.

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.