The Sacramento Bee is reporting that it is Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to propose massive slashing of K-12 education funding unless the voters of California agree to vote to enact income, sales and car taxes on themselves, to generate an additional roughly $9 billion in additional tax revenue annually.
These are the same "temporary" taxes enacted by the legislature in 2009 — proving that in the mind of California Democrat leaders, there is no such thing as a temporary tax increase. But they are set to sunset (in fact the income taxes already did), thus they are new taxes.
As I wrote about Monday, it appears that Brown is planning to put into play the "Washington Monument" strategy — putting something so important to voters up for proposed cuts in an effort to get them to tax themselves (in a recession, no less).
The reality is that that Brown and legislative Democrats are putting forward what we call a false dilemma (defined by Wikopedia as a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options).
- Have we ended collective bargaining for public employees?
- Have we gone through and eliminated every possible state employee or contractor possible, streamlining our workforce such as in the private sector?
- Have we privatized anything (roads, prisons, universities)?
- Have we made permanent changes to social welfare spending to prevent future spending abuse?
- Have we put forward repealing unspent bonds (especially high speed rail)?
- Have we eliminated all of those high-paying, cushy commissions that are landing pads for termed-out legislators?
- How about implementing all of the cost-savings suggested in the comprehensive California Performance Review?
- How about ending taxpayer-provided cars (two of them) for members of the legislature?
- Or how about ending the use of legislators using public funds to mail "push-surveys" to constituents?
Or other reforms that may not see as much immediate fiscal savings, but will pay off huge in the long-haul? These could include…
- Has the legislature repealed AB 32 which is going to be so costly to energy consumers (all of us)?
- Have we reformed costly CEQA regulations?
- Has the Governor and legislature played hardball with current employees to get them to agree to lowering unsustainable pension benefits?
- What about meaningful education reforms, that restore local control and shrink the bloated education code?
I suspect the answer to all of these questions will be no. If Democrats think this kind of "gun to the heads of the voters" tactic of putting a false dilemma on the ballot is a good idea, then they should go ahead and try it. Go ahead and qualify this measure for the ballot through the initiative process, which can be done and placed before voters in mid-late July — or perhaps go the route offered by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters to put your proposed taxes forward to a statewide election on a majority vote using a,"constitutional section [which] allows the Legislature to place revisions to pre-existing statutory initiative measures on the ballot." Either way, those are your routes to putting this blackmail on the ballot. I don’t think you are likely to find a single Republican legislator that is willing to participate in this outrageous plan of yours. And taxpayers would, I believe, be very cynical to learn that "insider horsetrading" was responsible for a Republican patina on such a ploy.
When the voters have what would be a third opportunity in two years to address the issue of raising taxes to solve the state’s overspending crisis, it will be the public employee unions and Democrats verses taxpayers, working families and the Republican Party. I’m comfortable with the outcome of that showdown.