Tax Revolt 2009

(Note to readers: This post is very California-centric. Feel free to follow – or not – if you live outside the confines of the state.)

Just got back from this.

I’ll admit, I’ve been kinda lukewarm on politics for the past three years or so (mainly since the Republican party sold out its base in the push for amnesty), but this very well may get me back on the wagon.

In case any of you out there don’t know what’s going on, the state legislature voted a couple weeks ago to increase taxes by up to $65 billion. (For more on the “up to” part, read on.) This includes raising our state income taxes (which are already the nation’s highest), adding 1% to the state sales tax (which are already the nation’s highest), adding 12 cents per gallon to the state gas tax, and doubling our vehicle registration fees (a move that caused our previous governor, Gray Davis, to get recalled). Not only that, they’re charging an additional 5% surcharge on filing your state income tax. It’s a tax on your taxes, basically.

All this because our state government spent itself into a $44 billion budget deficit, failing to understand that when the housing bubble popped, it would send state revenues way down. Our state’s population has gone up about 3.75% over the past five years; in that same time frame, state spending has ballooned 32%. And now that they suddenly don’t have the money, they turn to the taxpayers to bail them out – in a recession, no less, when people are already struggling to keep their job and stay in their home. The people of California are being told to tighten their belts and open their wallets, while Arnold and the legislature continue to throw our money away.

The very notion that tax increases of any size – much less the magnitude we got, the largest tax increase any state has been nailed with in the history of the nation – is laughable. State workers get guaranteed pensions, 5 weeks of paid vacation and 14 paid holidays – and there’s nowhere else to cut? California is spending over 40% of its budget on public education, while half of the students in Los Angeles drop out of school before they get their diploma and California ranks below-average in math and writing test scores – and there’s nowhere else to cut? Dozens of redundant and pointless commissions and boards and agencies (the Air Resources Board, the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, the Biodiversity Council, the California Environmental Resources Evaluation System, the Constitution Revision Commission – and I stopped at the C’s) – and there’s nowhere else to cut? $13 billion a year spent on feeding, housing, educating, and providing health care to people who have no legal right to live in the state – and there’s nowhere else to cut?

On top of that, there is no guarantee that all of these tax increases are going to make the state any more solvent, even if they do patch up the current deficit. In fact, I can guarantee that not only will all these new taxes not fix the deficit, we’ll be in an even bigger hole next year. And of course, the legislators in Sacramento, along with Ahnuld, will throw up their hands in exasperation, claiming they’ve cut every dime they could out of their spending and need us to make up the difference again with even more taxes.

Unless the state gets off its collective ass and does something about it, California will become a no man’s land for the middle class, its socialistic environment hospitable only to the mega-rich that can afford the taxes, and the parasites that feed off the money everyone else pays. People are already starting to look towards other states with less suffocating taxes and regulations to move to, and those without jobs in the state don’t have very much reason to stay anyway.

This is a three-step process: Revolt, Recall, Repeal.

First, the Revolt. Call your local state assemblyman and state senator, and tell them that under no uncertain terms do you want to pay any more in state taxes and that you will vote them out of office if they continue to ignore your voice in favor of the state employee unions and activist groups that demand all of our money.

Second, Recall. Groups are already in motion to recall several key Republicans – notably Abel Maldonado of District 15 and Anthony Adams of District 59. These people are the ones responsible for providing the Republican votes that were necessary to give the tax increases the 2/3 majority required to pass. They have betrayed their constituents. The Democrats in state legislature were up-front about wanting to fleece taxpayers – they’re another matter entirely – but every Republican in the legislature signed a pledge to fight against any tax increases, and these two people broke that pledge. If you live in those districts, get involved in the recall efforts. If not, contact friends who are, and tell them to get involved. If the Republicans in state government won’t stop the Democrats from raising our taxes, then what good are they?

Speaking of which, it’s time to do to Arnold what we did to his predecessor. When running for office, Schwarzenegger promised to clean up the state, get rid of the inefficient government, and “blow up the boxes”. Five years later, he’s become the enabler for a socialist state government that has no sense of responsibility when it comes to tax money, all for the sake of popular approval and the illusion of “bringing the parties together”. (Meanwhile, Arnold’s approval rating dropped to 34% as a result of the budget mess.) We are in just as bad a position with Arnold as we were with Gray Davis – it’s time we took the same steps. Support the recall effort, sign the petitions when they come, and terminate the Terminator.

Finally, Repeal. You may not know it, but one of the provisions that the Republicans in the legislature squeezed out of the Democrats in return for letting the taxes pass was a voter ballot that would impose a “spending cap” on future budgets. Not only is it a phony spending cap – it’s based on average revenues from the past ten years, not previous spending as it should be – but it would extend the tax increases by an additional two years. We would be paying for the government’s poor money management until 2014. This simply cannot happen.

The ballot initiative will appear in the May 19th special election as Prop 1A. In an especially deceptive maneuver, the state legislature took it upon themselves to write the voter summary of the measure as opposed to the Attorney General who normally does it. In doing so, they conveniently left out the fact that 1A will extend the taxes for two years. They’re trying to scam us. Don’t let them. Tell everyone you know to vote No on 1A. And while you’re at it, vote No on 1B as well – a $9 billion bribe to the state teachers union that’s being used as an end-around to circumvent the money they cut out of the education budget.

This country began as a revolt against taxes. It’s time the folks up in Sacramento got a history lesson.

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