In Sacramento last week, Senate and Assembly Republicans were able to unite and successfully block billions of dollars in tax increases proposed by Democratic legislators. In the California Legislature, any bill that implements new taxes needs a two-thirds vote and the Republican caucus held together to stop all of these new taxes.
These tax increases were deemed necessary to fund vital programs. It all seems deceptive considering the state reported its highest revenues and Gov. Brown signed the largest budget in state history.
Many of the proposed taxes are minor and obscure – just enough to fly under the radar of the average Californian. But when you add them up, they’re burdensome.
For example, a five-cent tax on cocktails was moved out of committee just before legislative session ended last Friday. While seemingly small, it could have a significant impact on the restaurant industry where cocktails are already costly. No restaurant will charge $12.05 for a cocktail, so they’ll likely round up to the next dollar. And the consumer, who has decided to splurge on Friday night, is left footing the bill for a large, hungry and growing government.
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Even our own State Sen. Bill Monning championed a one-cent excise tax, per ounce, on sodas, sweet tea and other sugary beverages. Legislators who propose these taxes are in tax brackets where pennies aren’t important. But to working families, pennies can be the difference between paying all of your bills or coming up short.
Working families aren’t the only group being adversely impacted by seemingly innocuous taxes. A UCLA study released just last week found that 28 percent of California’s 4 million adults age 65 or older are living in poverty. Over 1 million seniors are living in poverty when you take California’s very high cost of living into account, and these seniors are more likely to be Latino or African American.
Further, more than two-thirds of those identified as living in poverty aren’t recognized as poor based on the federal poverty level, making them ineligible for any federal assistance.
Seniors like these, who live on highly budgeted and fixed incomes, simply cannot afford all of these new “penny” taxes. Those cents add up and they’re devastating Californians.
It’s no wonder then that voters in San Luis Obispo County have less tolerance for county taxes proposed to feed and grow an ever expanding government. In fact, nearly every local Democratic candidate who has lost an election in our county in the last 10 years has lost over support they’ve shown to raising taxes.
One of the reasons I believe Supervisor Jim Patterson lost his re-election bid in 2012 was his support for a mosquito abatement program paid for by an increase in property taxes. Voters turned the proposition down as well as Patterson’s re-election.
Appointed county Supervisor Caren Ray also lost re-election in the fall of 2014 after her voting record showed she had voted for increases in 233 county fees.
Both also supported the lowering of the two-thirds threshold to 55 percent to implement new taxes in unincorporated parts of the county, which would gut Proposition 13.
This isn’t about ousting Democratic candidates. Investigating the voting record of candidates and the policies they support is not distortion; it’s good politics.
And while the programs most Democratic officials hope to fund with their proposed tax increases are well-intentioned programs, they all grow the size of government.
The government should never be grown on the backs of hardworking families. All of these nearly unnoticeable tax increases do just that – they grow the size of government at the expense of every hardworking family trying to make ends meet.
In California, forced altruism through tax increases is hurting our families more than helping.
This year, Republican legislators stood up to Democratic leaders in Sacramento and said no to tax increases. This is why San Luis Obispo County must continue to elect a Republican to the California State Assembly every two years.
We need legislators and county leaders who can manage the budget they’re given instead of asking for more. Working families, the same families those elected officials represent, are faced with the same tough decisions everyday but don’t have the option of asking for more income.