Craig DeLuz

Writer, Actor, Public Speaker, Media Personality
Posts Tagged ‘Taxes’

California Democrats Support Tax Cuts for Business! Well…Sort of…

That’s right! Democrats are once again proposing significant tax incentives to encourage employers to do business right here in California… that is if they happen to be a green technology company. All other employers… you can go take a hike!… a tax hike that is!
Right on the heals of proposing over $12 billion in new taxes on Californians, Assembly Democrats (specifically Assemblymember Joan Buchanan) are proposing an increase in the research and development tax credit for companies that specialize in the development of alternative energy and green technologies. Buchanan states,
 

“Assembly Bill 1565 creates targeted Research and Development Tax Credit Areas with attractive R&D credits to motivate green technology businesses to stay in and move to California.”

In theory, this sounds like something Republicans should support – making it more cost-effective for businesses to come to and stay in California, thus providing much needed jobs. In fact, legislative Republicans have gotten behind such targeted efforts in the past. In 2009, they supported Assembly Speaker Karen Bass’ bill that provided tax credits for movie and television productions to studios that film here in the golden state. And a few months ago, they supported a manufacturer’s tax credit for green tech companies. So, why shouldn’t they get behind this most recent effort to provide much needed tax relief to at least some California companies? One word – Hypocrisy!
The California Legislature should not be in the business of picking winners and losers during these tough economic times. There is a basic hypocrisy in the liberal mindset that says, California is such and attractive place to do business that employers will stay here no matter how much we increase taxes and regulation; then at the same time arguing that we need to provide tax incentives to certain industries (the ones they happen to like) in order to bring and keep them in California. But wait…I thought those incentives didn’t make a difference?
Assemblyman Tom Amiano once lamented in a committee hearing that he was tired of people saying that our anti-business climate was chasing business out of the state. He stated that he just didn’t see the dire emergency. Apparently he forgot that in just a few short years, California went from the world’s fifth largest economy to the world’s eighth largest economy. And that was before the legislature passed the largest tax increase in state history. It is only a matter of time before having the highest sales tax, highest gas tax and second highest corporate tax rate drive us even further down the economic rankings.
It is important to note that is fact is not lost on Democrats. In fact Buchanan herself discusses the vital role that tax incentives can play in keeping businesses in California as she declares,

“This incentive will encourage business to remain in California and motivate new businesses to locate here, retaining and creating permanent jobs and helping to spur California’s economy.”

So what’s with the Jekyll and Hyde impression that Democrats seem to be doing on taxes? They know that tax cuts attract businesses and create jobs. But at the same time they are offering tax cuts to only a few select businesses, they are increasing taxes on the rest of California. What effect do they honestly believe that these tax increases will actually have?
Or maybe a better question is, do they even care?

Schwarzenegger target of recall rally led by former supporters, John & Ken

Heads on a stick!

That is the newest promotion by Southern California radio talk show hosts John and Ken, as they go after GOP electeds who they say supported tax inreases.

One of the primary targets of their tax revolt was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ironically was supported by John and Ken over the clearly more fisacally conservative, Tom McClintock.

Waste In the Stimulus Bill? Democrat Author Says ‘So What?’

And My brother David wonders why Republicans are scoffing at this pork barrel spending bill, that is only meant to stimulate the money out of the pockets of hard working Americans and into the pockets of liberal special interest groups like Planned Parenthood and Acorn.

David, please read what Michael Obrien with The Hill wrote about the bill’s author who, when asked about wasteful spending in the bill said “So what?”:

Waste In the Stimulus Bill? Democrat Author Says ‘So What?’

How money is spent should be far from the biggest concern about the stimulus package, its chief author, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) said Friday.

“So what?” Obey asked in response to a question on NPR’s “Morning Edition” about the perceived lack of direction from Congress as to how money in the stimulus should be spent. “This is an emergency. We’ve got to simply find a way to get this done as fast as possible and as well as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Obey said that Congress is not responsible if money is misspent, but rather, whoever spends the money poorly.

“We simply made a decision, which took about three seconds, not to have earmarks in the bill,” Obey told NPR. “And with all due respect, that’s the least important
question facing us on putting together this package.”

As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Obey had chief oversight in crafting the $825 billion package as passed by the House. The provisions in the bill have been
criticized by Republicans and some centrist Democrats for not being as directly related to stimulating the economy as it should be.

“We have more oversight built into this package than any package in the history of man. If money is spent badly, we want to know about it so we can hold accountable the people who made that choice,” the chairman said. “And guess what? Regardless of what we do, there will be some stupid decisions made.”

Waste In the Stimulus Bill? Democrat Author Says ‘So What?’

And My brother David wonders why Republicans are scoffing at this pork barrel spending bill, that is only meant to stimulate the money out of the pockets of hard working Americans and into the pockets of liberal special interest groups like Planned Parenthood and Acorn.

David, please read what Michael Obrien with The Hill wrote about the bill’s author who, when asked about wasteful spending in the bill said “So what?”:

Waste In the Stimulus Bill? Democrat Author Says ‘So What?’

How money is spent should be far from the biggest concern about the stimulus package, its chief author, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) said Friday.

“So what?” Obey asked in response to a question on NPR’s “Morning Edition” about the perceived lack of direction from Congress as to how money in the stimulus should be spent. “This is an emergency. We’ve got to simply find a way to get this done as fast as possible and as well as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Obey said that Congress is not responsible if money is misspent, but rather, whoever spends the money poorly.

“We simply made a decision, which took about three seconds, not to have earmarks in the bill,” Obey told NPR. “And with all due respect, that’s the least important
question facing us on putting together this package.”

As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Obey had chief oversight in crafting the $825 billion package as passed by the House. The provisions in the bill have been
criticized by Republicans and some centrist Democrats for not being as directly related to stimulating the economy as it should be.

“We have more oversight built into this package than any package in the history of man. If money is spent badly, we want to know about it so we can hold accountable the people who made that choice,” the chairman said. “And guess what? Regardless of what we do, there will be some stupid decisions made.”

Huber and Buchanan duck for cover during budget battle

Less than a month into the new session, Sacramento’s two newest Democrat electeds have refused to take a stand in the most important issue facing the legislature in years.

I don’t often agree with the Sacramento Bee. But they hit it on the nose when they exposed these two.

On Tuesday, five Assembly Democrats abstained from votes on tax hikes: Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills, Joan Buchanan of Alamo, Manuel Perez of Coachella, Marty Block of San Diego and Charles Calderon of Whittier. Huber and Calderon also abstained from votes on spending cuts. On Thursday, Huber and Buchanan abstained again on tax hikes.

Huber’s abstentions are especially disappointing. This page endorsed her to tepresent District 10, which includes Lodi, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Stockton and Jackson. She campaigned as a “problem solver” who would “hit the ground running.” A news release on her swearing-in said: “Deeply concerned with the state’s financial crisis, Assemblymember Huber is prepared to immediately start working toward a solution.” Instead, Huber seems to have hit the ground looking for cover.

Voters don’t elect legislators to be neutral on the most important issues facing the state. And if legislators don’t like the process by which the bills were produced, they should vote “no.”

Ladies, it is a little too early in your political tenure to be ducking for cover. You chose to run in battleground districts. So it is time to stand up and fight for what you believe in. Or are you scared that you will be exposed for who you really are?

Governor finally agrees with GOP Legislators

Here is a quote from Gov. Schwarzenegger you won’t see in the main stream media:

“And now I understand when Republicans say they say that they are serious about negotiating, but when it comes down to the language itself, that’s where it will fall apart. And that’s exactly what happened this time.”

He made this statement after pledging to veto the controversial budget fixed passed on a simple majority vote, in violation of the State Constitution (Click Here to Watch the Video).

What he was commenting on was the fact that when Legislative Democrats negotiate they say they will do one thing. But the devil is in the details-otherwise known as “Bill Language”. Meaning- the bill language that is offered by the Democrats often does not do what they said it would do. This is why it is a general policy amongst assembly Republicans to not agree to any idea- even in concept until you see it in writing. Furthermore, it explains why the GOP has insisted on their issues being address before even considering new revenues.

The truth is that Legislative Democrats don’t believe that they have to actually negotiate with Republicans. They ignore them whenever they don’t need their votes to pass legislation. No matter how salient a point they make may be, it often gets lost in the fervor of getting their bills through the legislative process. They simply state that they are willing to take a look into it as the bill moves along. The bill passes and nothing ever happens.

And when they do need GOP votes, Democrats don’t bother trying to negotiate in good faith. Rather, they try to pick off one or two votes with incentives that may help that member, but don’t necessarily address their overall policy concerns. Of course, the governor cannot necessarily complain about this tactic, since he often employees it himself.

If a deal is going to get done, it will only be when all sides are allowed to sit at the table and negotiate in good faith. All sacred cows need to be on the table- meaning that everyone is going to have to give up something in order to get something.

$9 billion tax plan to be approved by majority vote?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. And a tax by any other name still stinks to high heaven.

However, by calling $9.3 billion in taxes, fees, Democrats hope the get around the State Constituion and pass them with a simple majority vote.

Here is the press release from Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg:

Senate Democrats to Vote Tonight on Majority Vote Budget Plan

(SACRAMENTO) The State Senate will take up an $18 billion majority vote budget deficit reduction plan coupled with economic stimulus proposals Wednesday evening.

Specifically, the proposal increases general fund revenues by $9.3 billion, enacts $7.3 billion in cuts and finds $1.5 billion in other solutions.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass announced the new Democratic proposal today.

“Desperate times don’t call for desperate measures; desperate times call for creative thinking,” Steinberg said. “As the majority party, Democrats are responsible for governing the state – by solving $18 billion of the budget deficit we are showing Californians that we take that responsibility seriously.”

Senate session is scheduled for 5 p.m.

The plan is as follows:

Revenues

The Democrats’ plan eliminates gasoline sales and excise taxes used for transportation purposes and replacing those taxes with a mix of taxes (sales, oil severance and personal income surcharge) that will be used to bolster the general fund. This action will bring $5.7 billion into the general fund.

To replace the transportation dollars, the Democratic plan institutes a “user fee” of 39 cents for gasoline consumption in California. The new fee would increase the amount of funds for the state highway account by $500 million annually and for local streets and roads by $643 million annually. In addition, the fee will be indexed o adjust with inflation. Because it is a user fee, the revenues have to be used or transportation purposes.

In addition, the Democratic plan reworks the “triple flip” enacted in 2004. The “triple flip” increased the state sales tax by a quarter cent, reduced local sales tax by a quarter cent and shifted property taxes from schools to local governments to make up for loss in local sales tax money. The state general fund backfilled schools for the loss of property tax money.

The Democratic proposal ends the local quarter cent local sales tax reduction, eliminating the need to shift property tax from schools to local governments, thereby ending the general fund obligation to backfill school funding. The result is an additional $1.5 billion to the general fund.

Additionally, the Democratic plan establishes new 3 percent income tax withholding requirements for independent contractors. Specifically, the plan requires businesses to withhold 3 percent of payments they make to independent contractors exceeding $600 each year, relieving businesses from having to file 1099 forms. This action generates $2 billion for 2009-10.

Cuts

Education Solutions:

Current Year Reductions. Reduces Proposition 98 spending by the $2.5 billion level proposed y the Governor. However, this package of reductions does not follow the Governor’s proposal to cut school district revenue limits, and instead targets pecific programs that mitigate direct impacts on classroom instruction.

Settle-Up Solutions. Adopts a variation of the LAO’s proposal to count a portion of current year spending as “settle-up” dollars rather than Proposition 98 dollars. This does not reduce current year education spending, but does provide additional Proposition 98 flexibility in the budget year.

CSU and UC Reductions. Adopts the Governor’s proposal to cut $132 million from the UC and the CSU.

Health and Human Services Solutions:

SSI/SSP. Reduces SSI/SSP grants in 2009 back to the 2008 level and suspends the budget year state COLA. Together these actions will save about $177 million in the current year and about $500 million in the budget
year. However, this ultimately means that the state’s neediest elderly and disabled individuals will lose more than $700 per year (and couples more than $1,300).

CalWORKS. Suspends the budget year CalWORKS COLA to save about $100 million.

Regional Centers. Reduces, by three percent, certain payments for services delivered to individuals with developmental disabilities for the period from December 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010, as proposed by the Governor. This results in a reduction of $26 million General Fund for 2008-09 and $60 million in 2009-10.

Also reduces the Regional Center Operations’ budget by $3 million General Fund in 2008-09 and $12.2 million in 2009-10 by suspending certain case management ratios and administrative requirements.

Local Government Solutions:

Local Public Safety Programs. Approves the Governor’s proposal to eliminate General Fund support for various local law enforcement programs which saves approximately $189 million in the current year and $500 million in the budget year. These cuts are mitigated by reallocating Vehicle License Fee revenues ($92 million in the current year and $359 million in the budget year) to support these local programs.

Williamson Act Local Backfill. Approves the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the $34.7 million backfill to counties. This does not, however, make any changes to the underlying program to preserve agricultural land.

Transportation Solutions:

State Transit Assistance. Reduces annual funding for the State Transit Assistance (STA) from $306 million to $150 million. The Governor had proposed to eliminate the program entirely.

Fund Shifts. Achieves $185 million in General Fund solutions by shifting eligible Motor Vehicle Account funds and Tribal Compact revenues to the General Fund.

Various Other Solutions:

Judicial Branch Solutions. Achieves $91 million in solutions from the Judicial Branch with a reduction to the 2008-09 COLA for the trial courts and a one-time transfer from the Trial Court Improvement Fund to the eneral Fund.

Office of Emergency Services. Eliminates $30 million in funding for the gang initiative and various other programs.

Employee Compensation. Reduces funding for employee compensation by $240 million in the current year and $417 million in the budget year, however, the savings is required to be negotiated through the collective bargaining process.

Economic Stimulus

As part of a real Economic Stimulus plan, Democrats are proposing to accelerate the availability of bond funds for “ready-to-go” infrastructure projects.

For every $1 billion of investment in public works infrastructure projects, the state creates 15,000 high-wage private sector jobs.

The total Democratic investment of bond funds is nearly $3 billion ($2.9 billion) to improve streets and roads, public transit, housing sites, parks, levees, water quality projects, and to bolster the “green” economy.

CA Assembly to vote on $5 billion in new taxes that they are calling “Fees”

Today, Democrats will be offering $5 billion in new taxes, calling them fees. It is believed that by calling them fees, they can be passed by majority vote, rather than the 2/3 vote requirement that is necessary to raise taxes: meaning, they could conceivably pass this without any Republican votes.

Admittedly, I am not sure that this is the case. But cut me some slack, Republicans just got the bill language an hour or so ago. So much for “Open and Transparent Government”.

We have also heard that there will be votes on some education issues and transportation issues, and possibly health and human services. Of course, Democrats may change the whole thing up. Heck, we may not see what is actually being proposed until the members walk into the chamber this afternoon. They have already changed the meeting time. Who knows what else will change.

The California Channel will be broadcasting this session live at 3 p.m. on many local cable channels, or on their live webfeed at http://www.calchannel.com/ . You can also listen to the session live by going to the Assembly’s webpage and clicking on “Floor Session” at the top of this page here: http://www.assembly.ca.gov/Committee_hearings/ . If you are unable to watch live, you will be able to retrieve the broadcast at http://www.calchannel.com/ later in the archives.

Watch the “Why the GOP should cave!” dog and pony show LIVE!

Today at 3 pm the California Legislature will be holding a joint session to hear from the State’s fiscal leaders on why they need to address the State’s massive budget deficit ASAP. Featured speakers include State Controller John Chiang, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Mike Genest, the Governor’s Director of the Department of Finance, and Mac Taylor, the state’s non-partisan legislative analyst. Each will speak for 15 minutes, and then there will be questions from the legislature afterwards.You can tune in and watch it live at CalChannel.com .

Sacramento Bee writers, Dan Walters and Jon Ortiz will also be hosting a live blog during the presentation at www.sacbee.com/live. That is how important this presentation will be.

But you can be assured that the bulk of the dog and pony show will be focused on why legislative Republicans should cave on their commitment not to raise taxes.

Bill Lockyer has already threatened to withhold the sale of any bonds until the budget is fixed. Furthermore, he would cease the flow of funds to current projects. Additionally, Governor Schwarzenegger has hinted at massive layoffs amongst the ranks of state employees, a proposal that will do more to influence Democrats than Republicans.

But what is missing from any discussions are the substantive requests that GOP legislators have put forward. Namely:

• Economic stimulus proposals (not tax cuts) for employers like:
o AB 32 implementation relief
o Repeal of eight hour overtime
o Regulatory relief

• Substantive budget reform like:
o A real spending cap
o A rainy day fund
o Providing flexibility to agencies (especially schools) on how they can spend their budgets.

• Ongoing spending reductions by:
o Consolidating agencies and departments with duplicative functions “Blowing up the boxes”
o Re-visiting collective bargaining agreements and related side deals.
o Reworking of funding formulas that demand so much of the state budget.

Even as Democrats declare “Everything needs to be on the table”. Please notice that these options will be found nowhere on that table. Not because Republicans have not proposed them. Rather, Democrats have killed them at every turn.

Democrats propose gimmicks and tax increases but no budget reform

Today, Legislative Democrats offered their proposal to address the $28 billion deficit facing California over the next 19 months.

In predictable fashion, they offered temporary gimmicks (calling them cuts), permanent tax increases (calling them revenue enhancements) and absolutely no budget reform. In fact, the Democrat proposal offers $8 billion in TEMPORARY spending cuts and gimmicks in exchange for $8 billion in PERMANENT tax increases.

Democrat Assembly member Noreen Evans pleaded for members to not be beholden to ideology and “put everything on the table.” However, Democrats refused to include any substantive budget reform or economic stimulus in the bill package they put forth today.

The California Assembly Republican Caucus has identified the following “Lowlights” in the Democrat’s proposal:

  • Permanent Tax Increases – Imposes $8.6 billion in higher taxes on hard-working Californians, including higher Vehicle License Fees. Over 5 years, our taxes would be raised by $24 billion.
  • Small Ongoing Budget Savings – Uses delays and fund-shifts to make it seem like their approach would lead to $8.1 billion in cuts, while in reality it would lead to little ongoing savings.
  • Prioritizes Welfare over Public Safety – Contains few cuts to the fastest-growing areas of government like health and welfare programs, while targeting public safety for devastating cuts to frontline officers, community policing and juvenile justice programs.
  • Includes Early Release – It also includes dangerous early release and direct discharge parole plans that would allow thousands of inmates to go directly back into our communities, unsupervised by a parole officer.
  • No Incentives for Job Creation – Includes no economic incentives or reforms to lower business costs and encourage companies to invest in California and create jobs here.
  • No Strict Spending Limit – Has no real spending limit that would force the Legislature to only spend what the state takes in each year.

MAD Moment: Higher taxes is not the answer to California’s budget problems

Governor Proposes $4.7 Billion Tax Increase

You knew it was coming!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued his proposals for addressing the anticipated $11.2 billion revenue shortfall. The center piece of his proposal is $4.7 billion in new taxes.

Here are the details:

A Revenue Problem: While Governor Schwarzenegger has worked to fix the state’s spending problem, and has kept state spending relatively flat for the past three budget cycles, the dramatic drop in our revenue projections over the past six weeks resents an extraordinary situation which, combined with the volatility of our tax ystem, creates a revenue problem. Raising taxes is never a good idea, but in this xtraordinary situation, there is no question that new revenues must be brought into he state to protect education and vital services. The Governor is proposing $ 4.7 billion in new revenues for the current budget year in the form of:

  • A Temporary Sales Tax Increase: A temporary increase in the state sales tax (from 5 percent to 6.5 percent) will generate additional sales tax revenues of $3.5 billion in 2008-09 for the General Fund. It will also effectively protect significant education funding. At the end of three years, the state sales tax would revert to 5 percent.

  • Broadening the Sales and Use Tax to Include Certain Services: Effective February 1, 2009, the sales and use tax rate will be applied to appliance and furniture repair, vehicle repair, golf, and veterinarian services. Effective March 1, 2009, the sales and use tax rate will be applied to amusement parks and sporting events. This is expected to generate additional General Fund sales tax
    revenue of $357 million in 2008-09.
  • Oil Severance Tax: Effective January 1, 2009, impose an oil severance tax upon any oil producer for the right to extract oil from the earth or water in this state. This brings California in line with other states. The tax shall be applied to the gross value of each barrel of oil at a rate of 9.9 percent and will generate additional tax revenues of $528 million in 2008-09.
  • Increase Alcohol and Excise Taxes: Alcohol excise taxes are proposed to be raised by five cents a drink beginning on January 1, 2009. This increase is estimated to raise $293 million in 2008-09. Revenues from this tax will be used to fund critical drug and alcohol treatment and prevention services. Alcohol taxes were last raised in 1991.

In the Governor’s defense, he has also proposed $4.5 billion in spending cuts. This includes a deep $2.5 billion cut in education funding for this year. The fact is, there is something for everyone to hate in this proposal. But then again, maybe we wouldn’t have such a big budget shortfall if we didn’t ignore the fact that the revenue projects were unrealistic from the start.

But I won’t go there!

Assembly Debates GOP Budget Proposal (Video)

Yesturday, the California State Assembly debated the Senate Republican Budget proposal which balances the state budget without raising taxes. And as expected, Republicans are accussed of every evil under the sun from hating puppies to causing global warming to bringing about amagedon.

Click Here to watch the debate. (Fastforward an hour and 33 minutes to where the discussion actually starts.)

Governor’s “Compromise Budget” has no legislative support

Tomorrow, the California Assembly will be voting on Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Compromise Budget”. The interesting part is that there is no support on either side of the aisle in either house for his proposal.

As of the introduction of amendments today, the proposal did not even have a legislative author; thus making it the first ever piece of un-authored legislation ever to be introduced in the California Assembly.

And to add insult to injury, the Governor’s bi-partisan compromise may go down 79-0. That would be embarrassing for the administration.

In an attempt to win over some support, Schwarzenegger will be meeting with Assembly Republicans prior to tomorrow’s vote. But I would not expect much if I were him, since a similar meeting he held with the GOP Senators last week not only failed to produce any new support for his plan; but may have actually driven some Republicans to further distance themselves from the governor’s position.

Schwarzenegger calls Dem tax and spend budget “Very Courageous”

Finally! More than two months after the consitutional deadline to pass a budget, Senate Democrats finally put a budget proposal up for a vote. And it is not news to say, it failed on a party-line vote.

But what is noteworthy is that while Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the Democrat budget proposal that increases both taxes and government spending, calling it “Very Courageous”. Legislative Republicans, whose votes are needed to pass the budget are not so impressed.

The Sacramento Bee reported:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today praised a new Democratic version of the state budget as “very courageous” and urged Republican senators to vote for it.

Schwarzenegger was 500 miles away in San Diego, campaigning against any budget that relies on borrowing money from local governments and transportation funds, as the Senate began debating the new Democratic version. He issued his words of praise in response to a reporter’s question.

The new Senate Democratic version is based on Schwarzenegger’s own latest proposal to break a near-record-long stalemate, with its centerpiece being a one-cent increase in the state sales tax for three years. Its chief difference is that Schwarzenegger would reduce the sales tax below the current after the three-year period while Democrats would merely end the extra penny without a further decrease.

Schwarzenegger stopped short of saying he would sign the new version.

On the other hand, Republican Assembly Leader, Mike Vilines sent out the following statement which appears to express the sentimant of most (if not all legislative Republicans):

“Today’s budget vote was neither courageous nor productive – it was more of the same from liberal politicians who would rather pick the pockets of hardworking families instead of cutting wasteful spending.

“Assembly Republicans commend our Senate Republican colleagues for defending hard-working Californians from billions in higher taxes and billions in new spending by standing united against the Senate Democrat budget. It’s clear that Senate Democrats didn’t even have unanimous support in their own caucus for this half-baked proposal.

“Their irresponsible budget would have hurt working families by increasing the state sales tax, threatened public safety byincluding a dangerous direct discharge parole scheme and done nothing to reform our broken budget system.

“Now that the Senate has joined the Assembly in rejecting a budget proposal containing tax increases, I hope we can finally get serious about working together to reach consensus on an honest budget compromise. We must come together to craft a state budget that helps California live within its means, improves our economy and protects Californians from higher taxes.”

One thing can be said for sure, the liberals who are working to increase our taxes are not interested in working with Republicans to truly fix this budget mess.

Paper or Plastic? How about a New TAX?

A bill that has been circulating around the capitol all year now has a new number, but it’s still just as bad.

In the 11th hour “gut and amend”, legislation that would impose a $0.25 tax on paper and plastic grocery bags. A similar bill was held by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month, yet the proponents are attempting to advance this proposal during the waning days of the legislative session.

AB 2769 being introduced here in California would place a twenty-five cent fee on every plastic or paper grocery bag used. This legislation was proposed by Assembly Member Lloyd Levine and amounts to a regressive tax that will hit the working class the hardest. Consumers in the state of California use 600 bags per second. If AB 2769 was passed than that would be $150 out of consumers pockets every single second. As a matter of fact, a recent Department of Finance analysis concluded that this tax on just plastic grocery bags used would result in $4.75 billion in new costs on consumers. And this new bill would actually tax ALL GROCERY BAGS.

Plastic bags were first developed as an environmentally friendly substitute to paper bags. In a time when energy costs are rising, it still makes sense to use plastic, which require far less energy to produce than paper bags and are fully recyclable.

Less than a year ago the legislature passed Levine’s AB 2449 improving the recycling programs for plastic bags. And now,before we have even had a chance to see if this measure would make a difference, Levine has already ruled it a failure? How about giving this new law time to succeed?

In 2006, 812 million pounds of plastic bags were recycled — a 24% increase from 2005. This alone shows how a little information, as opposed to a tax, can go a long way in educating the public on how to do the right thing.

At a time when the state of California faces both fiscal and environmental problems, it is imperative that we find the most cost-effective way to meet these challenges. Well, AB 2769 goes in precisely the wrong direction.

Paper and plastic grocery bags are fully recyclable with curbside and drop-off programs available throughout the state. Ironically, California recently enacted the nation’s first state-wide plastic bag recycling statute. This program is just over a year old and the Integrated Waste Management Board has yet to publish any data indicating the amount of material being recycled under this law.

Nevertheless, indications are that more plastic grocery bags and other film-type plastics are being recycled in increasing numbers. In fact, Assembly member Levine agreed writing in a recent Op-Ed “that law has already resulted in a substantial increase in both plastic bag recycling and the use of reusable bags, thanks to environmentally conscious consumers.”

If the author of this legislation agrees that California’s existing recycling programs are working, why would the Legislature considering abandoning this new program and saddling consumers with a new tax proposal that does nothing to advance the recycling of these products?

Proponents argue that this legislation is an incentive for consumers to bring a reusable bag to the grocery stores. While this option is surely suitable for some, it is not a practical option for many especially those that rely solely on public transportation. Furthermore, consumers who accidentally forget to bring a reusable bag are left with no choice but to pay this exorbitant tax on a product that is fully recyclable and where recycling opportunities are becoming more convenient. AB 2769 does not make sense.

The Legislature should give the state’s recycling programs an opportunity to work and not further burden hard-working families with yet another tax proposal.

Still no budget while democrat Budget Chair parties at DNC

So much for working hard to solve the budget. According to the following press release from the CRP, the Chairman of the Assembly Budget committee John Laird (D- Santa Cruz) decided to go to the Democratic National Convention.

Democrat Budget Chair “Cringes” When Caught By Reporters At Convention

“It is time for every Californian to take action. Tell the Legislature that they need to pass the budget now.” – Assembly Democrat Caucus budget website

As California enters its 55th day without a state budget, assembly Democrats are urging Californians to call their Legislator and tell them to immediately pass a budget.

That could prove to be difficult, however, because the Democrat Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) is partying it up in Denver at the Democrat National Convention.

Despite a late budget that has hurt many Californians, Laird doesn’t seem to be worried. In fact, this morning he was found leading chants of “we are one!” at a convention breakfast. (Source: Capitol Weekly Blog)

KCRA political reporter Kevin Riggs caught Laird playing hooky this morning. Riggs’ convention blog says Laird “cringed” when he was caught by reporters cheerleading at the convention, instead of working to resolve California’s budget crisis. (Source: The Riggs Report)

How can Assemblyman John “What Me Worry?” Laird abandon his duty as Chair of the Budget Committee during our fiscal crisis?

There are 14 Southwest flights from Denver to Sacramento today…the people of California expect Mr. Laird to be on one of them.

Gov’s idea for rainy day fund is all wet

Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger offered, what he calls a “Compromise Budget” that he says, “responsibly addresses California’s remaining $15.2 billion budget shortfall and reforms our broken budget system.” (Click Here to See his Press Conference)

The truth is that his current budget plan is not new, not a compromise, does not contain budget spending reform and does not address the current budget deficit.

The Budget Reform measures being offered by the governor include:

A Strong Rainy Day Fund

• Increases the size of California’s Budget Stabilization Account (BSA) from 5 percent of General Fund expenditures to 12.5 percent -or approximately $13 billion dollars today.

• Requires annual transfers to the BSA of 3 percent of General Fund and eliminates the ability to suspend those annual transfers. In years when the BSA is full (at 12.5%), the annual transfer is reduced to 1.5 percent. During economic downturns, when funds can be drawn out of the BSA, the transfer would not occur.

• In addition to the annual transfer of 3 percent of General Fund to the BSA, the compromise proposal requires that all current-year revenue above the amounts included in the Budget Act be transferred to the BSA, after first providing funding to education as required under Proposition 98. This would mean that any unexpected spike in revenues that occur during the fiscal year – normally recognized in the Governor’s May Revision – would be transferred to the BSA.

• Funds could only be transferred out from the BSA under the following conditions: 1) actual revenues during the Fiscal Year must be below a specified level: prior year spending adjusted by population growth and per capita personal income growth; 2) funds transferred from the BSA back into the General Fund must be appropriated in a stand-alone urgency bill, subject to a 2/3rds vote of the Legislature. The amount transferred out of the BSA during a fiscal year would be limited to the amount which would bring revenues up to prior year spending adjusted by population and per capita personal income growth.

• When the balance in the BSA reaches 12.5 percent, the excess would be available for one-time purposes only. One-time purposes would include: paying down debt, paying off outstanding General Obligation bonds, investing in infrastructure and capital outlay projects, paying for “settle-up” dollars owed to education, pre-paying health care liability for retired employees (OPEB), and tax relief.

Mid-Year Reduction Authority

• Authorizes the Director of Finance to do the following when s/he determines, mid-year, that revenues have fallen below specified levels:

• Reduce state operations budgets by up to 7 percent without modifying or suspending the law.

• Freeze Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), rate increases or increases in state participation in local costs, as designated in the Budget Act, for up to 120 days.

• Requires the governor to submit urgency legislation to permanently suspend COLAs and other rate increases. If the governor fails to act within the 120 days, or the Legislature fails to adopt the suspension, the COLAs and other rate increases are reinstated.

There are several problems with this proposal. First, there is noting in it that addresses the issue of overspending. All it requires is for the state to contribute 3% of whatever they spend to the reserve, thus increasing the amount that goes to the rainy day fund as spending increases. But it does not limit spending!

A firm spending cap would limit the argument for future tax increases as long as revenues are in line with spending. But under this proposal, Democrats will be free to increase spending as they wish as long as they offer tax increases to help cover the cost.

Secondly, what good is it to allow the governor to make mid-year reductions that will last only 120 days? That’s right! Unless the 2/3 of the legislature votes to make the reductions permanent, then spending goes back to normal levels.

Maybe I am mistaken. But I don’t think there are any Democrats who would vote to make such cuts permanent. And it is highly unlikely that Republicans will get a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature anytime soon. Thus, the offer of mid-year reductions as offered in this proposal is all smoke and mirrors.

It is regretful that the Governor has caved on the idea of a spending cap. I believe that legislative Republicans could legitimately consider supporting his proposal if it truly addressed the issue of out of control spending.

In Case You Missed It: Debates on CA Budget & Spending Cap (Video)

As promised, here are links to streaming video for anyone interested in viewing the Assembly Floor debate on the budget, which took place on Sunday or the Assembly Budget Committee, which met on Friday.

(Click Here for Assembly Budget Debate) **Warning** This is a long video! Debate lasted from about 4 pm until around 8:30pm.

(Click Here for the ACA 19 Hearing) Roger Niello did us Proud!

Asm. Roger Niello explains the benefits of a Budget Spending Cap

As you already know, Assembly Democrats have already shot down ACA 19 which would amend the state constitution to include a hard spending cap. The following video contains a detailed description and explanation of the Republican proposal that you will not find in the MSM.

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The Democrats went on to spend the rest of the committee hearing attempting to misrepresent the legislation and almost literally calling Asm. Niello a liar. But he did the GOP proud. I am working on getting the rest of the committee hearing for you to view. So stay tunned!

CTA TV ads target GOP legislators with lies from the left

As the budget battle heats up, the California Teacher’s Association has taken to the airwaves, attacking Republican legislators for not agreeing to vote for the “compromise buget”. The started with the generic ad below. But this morning, I saw the very same ad, only with a tag line at the end encouraging viewers to call Assemblyman Roger Nielo. I also have heard reports of the very same commercial targeting Todd Spitzer.

The funny part is that this commercial is full of lies:

1. “Teachers don’t know what to expect for our schools or how to plan for our students.” – School districts have already passed a budget for the 2008-09 school year. So, they do already know what to expect. Any teachers that would have been let go, already have been. Any cuts that would be required, already have been. And keep in mind, Republicans have already agreed to fully fund Prop. 98. This means that schools will get a $1.8 billion increase.

2. “Thats why lawmakers need to put the partisan bickering asside and pass a ‘common sense’ budget that raises revenue to protect education.” What they are really saying is that Republicans need to agree to raise taxes. The funny part is that most of the money from the proposed tax increases go to social welfare programs, NOT EDUCATION. But even having said that, why don’t they encourage Democrats to agree to common sense budget reforms like a hard spending cap or a rainy day fund?

3. “As a parent and a Republican, it’s time for my letislator to listen to me about schools, not the Republican leaders in Sacramento.” But Democrats should listen to the Democrat leader? This is the set up! But no partisanship here… right?

4. “Call your legislator and tell them to suppport the compromise budget today.” – The only proposed budget that is in print is no compromise. It is the product of the Budget Conference Committee that is dominated by Democrats and has yet to recieve one Republican vote. Even the Governor has insisted that this budget is out of line with what is best for California, and he is “Mr. Compromise”. All it does is raise taxes by $10 billion, increase spending by $3 billion, cuts law enforcement, contains no budget reform and continues to feed their spending addiction.

The truth is, CTA’s view of compromise equates to Republicans folding and doing exactly what THEY and the Democrats want. Don’t be fooled!

Democrat budget cap likely a budget visor…

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Don Perata and the Governor have come to an agreement on the budget.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said Wednesday that Democrats have negotiated key points of a compromise state budget with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and that he considers negotiations over.

“I think we’ve, frankly, gone about as far as we can go,” the Oakland Democrat said.

Perata said the compromise plan includes a major concession by Democrats — a spending cap to limit annual state expenditures.

But one thing you learn in this business is that the devil is in the Senate… er… details.

As of this posting, nothing in writing has been submitted to Senate. So whether or not there is an actual budget spending cap in the proposal is yet to be seen. And if there is one, you can bet that it is not a real cap.

Keep in mind that Democrats have been insisting form months that a spending cap is a non-starter and is not up for negotiations. Put this together with the fact that the Governor’s office stopped talking about a spending cap weeks ago, opting to focus only on a rainy day fund. And now all of a sudden there is an agreement for a spending cap? Me thinks me smells a rat here!

One only need look at the tactics now being reported in the Capitol Alert:

With Don Perata announcing an agreement between Senate Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the budget, the focus in the Capitol among those leaders has turned to picking off at least two Republicans in the state Senate to pass the spending plan.

Notice that there is no mention of actually putting the Democrat agreement in writing so that there can be honest and open negotiations. Instead they are opting for coercion, extortion and maybe even bribery. Some would call it “playing political hardball.”

The good news is that Republican’s popularity amongst their voters has been improving as they have stood their ground. This is largely due to the fact that most GOP voters didn’t think that they would do what they said they were going to do.

In the end, this means that when this budget deal comes to the Assembly, the 7 or 8 votes needed to pass it will be hard to come by.

On another note: If Republicans can get a real spending cap, how much should they give up for it? Keep in mind that while we can probably balance the budget without them, Democrats will likely demand some sort of “Revenue Enhancements” in exchange for caving on a hard spending limit.

What would you be willing to give up?

– A one cent increase in the sales tax for three years?

– More borrowing?

– Closing “Tax Loopholes”? Which ones?

– Lottery funds, backed up by new taxes?

– Increase in income taxes on business & high income earners?

– or ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING!

Obama says politics blocks economic solutions. Forgot to include the word “Liberal”

Barak Obama once again proves that he is a not quite ready for primetime player. He declared that we could solve our economic problems if only we could get politics out of the way.

Obama wrapped up his tour of battleground states with a summit focused on economic issues.

AP reported:

Barack Obama told top business leaders Thursday that politics often gets in the way of solving problems that threaten America’s ability to stay competitive in the global economy.

“There is surprising consensus in this country about what needs to be done — somehow our politics prevent us from acting on that consensus,” Obama said at an economic summit meeting. “We spend an enormous amount of time talking about what separates us, along party lines, along racial lines, along economic lines, but when it comes to how we need to retool America to continue its greatness, we’ve got a lot of stuff that we can agree on.”

According to his website, here are some of the policies he advocates that we could find agreement on:

• Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families
• Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans
• Support Job Creation
• Invest in Rural Areas
• Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
• Expand Flexible Work Arrangements

But here is the problem… He and his fellow Democrats have failed to support any of these measures.

They won’t support tax cuts for ALL working families. They refuse to support a flat tax, which would simplify the tax code overnight. They only want to support R&D tax credits for industries they approve of, not the ones that actually create jobs. And the union bosses that run the Democrat Party will not allow business to offer their employees the same flexible work schedules that their members often enjoy.

No… The “solutions we agree on” that Obama is talking about are the ones that he and his fellow liberals have cooked up. If he has his way we will be mandating “green technologies” that don’t yet exist, compelling employers to unionize against their will, raising the minimum wage and mandating that employees get more paid leave.

How exactly will these policies improve the economy?

Democrats need to realize that the government cannot do anything to improve the economy except getting out it’s way by freeing business from overregulation and getting out of the pockets of American families.

Don’t Miss the Rally for Life- TODAY!!!

COALITION FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN

PRESS RELEASE for June 18, 2008

For more information, please contact: Wynette Sills at (916) 955-1577 or see our website http://www.california4life.org

TODAY, Wednesday, June 18, 2008, the Coalition for Women and Children will hold a historic Rally for Life to demand the Elimination of Abortion Funding from our California State Budget. The Rally will be held on the West steps of the Capitol from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm, followed by a Press Conference from 12:30-1:00, and the Lobby for Life Legislative office visits throughout the afternoon.

During this time of severe state budget crisis, when our schools, parks, libraries, public safety, and healthcare services are experiencing drastic spending cuts, we can no longer afford to subsidize our nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, which according to their own Annual Report is experiencing record-breaking profits. Each year, California taxpayers contribute $33 million dollars to pay for 95,000 “free” Medi-Cal reimbursed abortions, according to the Department of Health Services statistics.

We request that these state funds be re-allocated to truly help the needy citizens of our state, rather than hurt thousands of women, both physically and emotionally, for a life-time. Today, taxpayers from throughout the state will gather to say, “Enough is enough! We will no longer be accomplices to this painful tragedy by subsidizing the lucrative abortion industry with our tax dollars! Women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy deserve our help and compassion, not a free abortion! As an example, these $33 million dollars could be better used to pay for 900 school teacher salaries!”

Rally speakers will include Walter Hoye, Issues4Life.org, who will address the devastating impact abortion has had on the African-American community, making this the Civil Rights issue of our generation. Also, post-abortive women who have personally experienced the pain of this “choice” will share their stories. At current rates, one in three women will experience an abortion, increasing their risk to breast cancer, miscarriage, premature birth, infertility, depression, addictions, and other physical and emotional difficulties. Senator Cogdill, Assembly Members Villines and LaMalfa will also speak. Closing out the event will be local activist, Craig DeLuz.

Furthermore, the abortion industry does not deserve our tax dollars. In a recent LA Times article, California Planned Parenthood affiliates allegedly over-charged our state by at least $180 million dollars. Why should we give even more money to an industry that has allegedly mishandled our tax dollars? Recently, Planned Parenthood, founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger, eagerly welcomed donations which specifically requested the extermination of African American babies. The citizens of California will not support such racism and misuse of our tax dollars!