The appetite of Democrats in the California legislature for raising more and more taxes is voracious, and seemingly knows no bounds. If you don’t believe me, just keep reading.
And when you do, you’ll realize that there is a lot of truth to the famous quote by Mark Twain: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
Before I highlight three specific, odious tax hike proposals, it is important to consider that these are anecdotal: there are many more that have been introduced. And it is also worth noting that state revenues are coming in significantly higher than expected, and that the budget proposed by Governor Brown for the 2015-2016 fiscal year will, if adopted, be the largest spending blueprint in the history of California.
We are amongst the most taxed people in our country. But wait–are you ready to pay more?
Let’s start with Assembly Bill 1335, a stunning 416% hike in the taxes paid on real estate transactions.
No, you did not read that wrong.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who makes Hillary Clinton look moderate, is proposing that a new $75 tax be levied on every single real estate transaction in the state (even more on transactions that are more complex). The legislative analysis says this could lead to as much a half-billion (with a “b”) dollar tax increase!
You have to credit Atkins for going “all in” with such a massive sucking of taxpayer funds out of the private sector–and, oh yes, managing to expand the state bureaucracy by creating a new cabinet-level office in the process.
Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, who strongly opposes AB 1335, recently pointed out that the bill would actually make housing less affordable: “The best way to promote affordable housing is to reduce regulations on homebuilders, spurring competition and driving down prices for everyone through free enterprise. Unfortunately this tax hike would do the opposite.”
Speaker Atkins will try to jam the tax increase through the Assembly this week.
But wait, there’s more.
The following two bills are what I call “lurkers”–they technically haven’t moved forward – but there is no more cherished tactic for tax-raisers than the “gut and amend,” where ideas that you think are dead are then magically pulled from the political grave.
In 2011, after Governor Brown and the legislature raided $90 million from the California Department of Fire budget to spend on things not related to fighting fires, they passed a bill creating a new “fee” on rural property owners to “backfill” those funds. It is pretty clear that this so-called fee was actually a tax increase, which was passed illegally, as it didn’t get a two-thirds vote of each chamber.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued the state to reverse this illegal tax, and, reading the tea leaves, Democrats are looking to pass a new tax in its place quickly.
That is how we get Assembly Bill 1203, by Assembly Democrat Reggie Jones-Sawyer. This legislation would create a new tax on all residential and commercial property insurance policies in the entire state for funding fire prevention. While the current illegal fire tax brings in around $80 million annually, the new Jones-Sawyer tax would bring in over half a billion dollars a year in new taxes.
Board of Equalization Member George Runner really nails it when he says, “Protecting Californians shouldn’t require new taxes or fees; public safety should be first, not last, in line for spending existing public dollars. If the state’s emergency readiness lacks adequate funding, California needs to do a better job prioritizing the more than $100 billion in taxes that taxpayers are currently sending to Sacramento each year.”
Finally, would you believe me if I told you that the mother lode of all tax increases out there, Senate Bill 8, authored by State Senator Bob Hertzberg, could actually more than double the amount of taxes going to state government?
Hertzberg’s grand idea is to expand taxation to services, which are currently not taxed, while reducing income and corporate taxes. A State Board of Equalization study suggests that could amount to a tax increase of over a hundred billion dollars. Seriously.
It is true that California is overly dependent on income taxes from high-income earners. Tax reform is a good idea and needed. But SB 8 is actually a massive tax increase masquerading as reform–just like its author, Hertzberg, has masqueraded as a supposedly more moderate Democrat. Clearly, that is not the case.
While reading about these crazy-huge tax increase proposals is enough to make you want to cry, I will leave you with some good news.
In last year’s elections, Republicans made some significant gains in both the State Senate and the Assembly. As a result, Democrats no longer have the two-thirds majority it takes to raise taxes unilaterally. Multiple GOP votes would be needed.
That is very unlikely, but also not unprecedented…
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Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher at www.flashreport.org. His column appears weekly on this page. You can reach Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.