Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Lack of taxes not problem

It is hard to stop laughing at Shirley Bianchi’s diatribe (“Taxes, socialism and weak links,” July 3) on tax rates seeing as she did not mention that California has one of the most progressive income tax rate structures in the nation.

Also, sales tax rates are up to 8.75 percent in the state, not to mention the spiraling rise in occupancy taxes, which is noteworthy since the sales and occupancy taxes penalize California workers who buy and travel within our great state.

Bianchi raises a valid point — why not raise taxes for those that can afford them? Hey, why not just raise the state tax rate to 20 percent? There are many who could afford to pay a higher rate. However, the real question is whether the majority of our state can really afford to have these rates raised. If the goal is to have government dictate investment, have higher unemployment and stifle innovation and individual choice, then I guess that’s what one would do.

The Democratic Party, to which Bianchi belongs, has controlled the state Legislature for forever yet has not done or provided anything to develop a commiserate plan of efficient spending to ensure tax rate increases would have any intended effort of improving government services.

Sorry, Shirley, surely you must know that it isn’t the lack of tax dollars that is root of the problem, it is an entrenched legislative structure and legislators that (by virtue of playing musical chairs with their positions and refusing to challenge spending status quo) cannot or will not enact structural change to the state. Between 1998 and 2008, state spending increased 28 percent, so it is not just an issue of lack of funding.

Bianchi, people in the state want to have their taxes go to improving education, making the state safer and improving the overall welfare of its citizens, so it is insulting to try to pigeonhole any opposition as anti-tax or fundamentalist.

Creeping taxation should be questioned by Independents, conservatives, Libertarians and even liberals when increasing taxes inhibits the very growth and the ability of the state to provide social services via fundamental growth of the industrial base that provides the means for funding social programs.

California has one of the highest tax rates in the country, yet spending for education is toward the bottom. California’s budget problems also stem from the volatility of revenue sources.

Increasing already progressive tax rates would accentuate the state’s budget problems and not solve the fundamental financial issues facing the state.

Furthermore, because California spending is tilted more toward social welfare than basic services such as education and infrastructure, we have the counterproductive effect of not supporting businesses (and growth), which exacerbates the loss of taxable growth sources out of the state.

It is incumbent to first rectify the distribution of our current tax funds to services, reduce volatile exemptions and credits while utilizing stable tax sources and create responsive district boundaries before embarking on reckless tax-rate increases that will only stifle growth. That is the formula to effect real social justice and social benefits.

Joe Sparks is a director of the Los Osos Community Services District and was president of the board in 2009.