A Word to the Wise for New Lawmakers

This is an open letter to all newly elected member of the Legislature.

Now that you have discovered the location of the restrooms and selected your new car here’s friendly advice from a taxpayer advocate and a political blogger who between them have more than 50 years of watching elected officials take California down the road to perdition.

First don’t touch the lobbyists. If you do don’t brag about it before an open mike. Failure to heed this warning cost an Orange County lawmaker his job.

Second don’t accept corporate or union paid trips to Hawaii or other exotic locals to attend “seminars” or “conferences.” Your constituents know exactly what these are.

Third and most important don’t vote to place new taxes on the ballot.

The spending lobby with its nose deeply imbedded in the public trough will press you to raise taxes. The buzz in the Capitol is that the new governor will call a special election in late spring to increase the VLF known to your constituents more accurately as the car tax.

Other taxes will also be on the table. It will be by necessity a large table because the governor-elect has already said that “everything” is on it. Expect a big push to make the massive $12 billion tax increase of 2009 — the largest increase in the history of all 50 states — permanent.

This tax is already costing the typical family in your district about $1100 annually. You’ll want to ask yourself if your constituents many of whom are unemployed can really afford to continue to pay this tax penalty.

If you are a Republican colleagues will warn you about the risk of voting for tax increases. Of the six Republican lawmakers who voted for the last tax hike one was chased from office by hostile constituents and three others were rejected for higher office by voters.

New Democrats too should be wary. Districts will be reapportioned this year and if you vote for new taxes while representing what was a safe district in 2010 you may find it much tougher going in 2012.

So the pitch by those who want more from taxpayers will be: Just agree to place the new taxes on the ballot and let the people decide.

Don’t fall for it.

If you vote to place new taxes on the ballot you will be treated by taxpayers as if you voted for a tax increase. Don’t expect excuses like “All I did is agree to submit new taxes to the voters I did not raise taxes” to wash.

Ask yourself could a lawmaker agree to place a measure to legalize slavery on the ballot and reasonably claim that they do not support it they just want the people to decide? Get real!

Moreover if a statewide tax is placed on the ballot with the complicity of Republicans taxpayer and Tea Party organizations will be forced to expend precious resources that would otherwise be directed toward changing the makeup of the Legislature for the better or for reasonable pro-taxpayer initiatives.

Your constituents are overtaxed overregulated and they desperately need your help. You will be offered all sorts of favors in return for placing a tax measure on the ballot — including some of the things we warned you against at the beginning of this letter. Don’t even go there.

Do the right thing even if it makes you less popular on planet Sacramento. Dedicate yourself to limiting spending and forcing the bureaucracy to live within the taxpayers’ means which are already overstretched. Become a responsible steward of the taxpayers’ trust and you’ll receive in return the respect and admiration of ordinary Californians.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Jon Fleischman is publisher of the FlashReport.