Opinion: California’s tax-and-spend cycle continues
November 7, 2017
The California legislature has descended into policy madhouse where decisions defy every bit of fiscal and economic common sense and serve to put working class people in the poorhouse.
Case in point is this year's tax-heavy legislative session, where the ruling party took breaks from abusing President Donald Trump only long enough to pass bills making California unlivable. In a state with the highest poverty level in the nation, legislators inexplicably set out to make absolutely everything more expensive.
California already has some of the highest gas taxes in the country; so what do the legislative Democrats do? They start by imposing a new gas and car registration tax, which added 12 cents to every gallon of gasoline starting Nov. 1, and increases vehicle registration fees by $25-175 per car. And that 12-cent tax will go up starting in 2021, adjusted for inflation, forever and ever.
This tax was sold as a way to repair our roads, but we already have money for that and have simply not made the commitment to spend those funds where needed. California general fund spending increased by around $25 billion over the past five years, but transportation spending stayed flat. Tell me why those funds could not have paid for roads?
Every year, a billion dollars in truck weight fees are diverted away from transportation where they belong and into the general fund. California has the money! By putting this new tax on every mile regular people drive for work, for school, for family, the dominant party is simply charging you twice for road construction and repair. Would you rather see our road money spent where it belongs before paying new and higher taxes?
But even that was not enough. The big bamboozle came in the extension of the state's cap-and-trade scheme, which is alleged to fight "climate change," but really fights against prosperity in the working class. If you were angry over the 12-cent gas tax, how do you feel about the 73-cent increase on every gallon of gas due to cap-and-trade?
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And, the money raised by cap-and-trade will go to subsidize California's legendary money burning High Speed Rail, which most ordinary Californians will only ever see from their cheaper, faster, more convenient seats on Southwest Airlines.
Lastly, in a state where housing prices are eating up 50 percent or 60 percent of many people's income, the legislature saw it fit to make housing even more expensive with a host of new fees and mandates that will add hundreds of dollars in costs to many real estate transactions, but many tens of thousands in costs for some new construction.
These housing taxes are not without consequence. For every $1,000 increase in the median price of a home, an additional 15,000 Californians are priced out of the market. The legislature is creating a permanent renter class by making housing and staple goods unaffordable, cutting off a traditional lifeline to a middle-class life for too many in our state.
California seems as though it has many problems — budget deficits, unfunded pensions, bad roads, high taxes — but it really has just one: politicians. Until Sacramento's tax-and-spend pirates change their ways, it's higher taxes from here on out.
Sen. Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.