Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown introduced the Timber Hard Plan Reform package as part a budget trailer bill. Gov. Brown’s Democratic Administration says that these reforms will support the struggling California timber industry, in part by creating a lumber retail sales tax. This tax would shift the financial burden of funding state regulatory agencies from timber companies to the consumer. Consumers would be forced to pay this tax whenever lumber is purchased at a local hardware store.
No matter how they try and spin it, this proposal is to increase taxes on hard-working Californians who are struggling to emerge from the recession. Taxing consumers because the state over regulates the lumber industry just doesn’t make sense to me.
Democrats can describe this Lumber Retail Sales Tax as something aimed at supporting our local timber industry, but it is still a tax – and this would be a new tax. It would be wiser to examine the extreme amount of regulations placed on the California timber industry, which is far more regulated than other states in the region. Improving the efficiency of the Department of Fish and Game, Department of Conservation, State Water Resources Board and the Department of Forestry would help the timber industry much more than raising taxes on hard-working Californians.
Not only is this new tax bad policy, I believe it creates a dangerous precedent. In the future, our state government will be able to simply continue overregulation and force Californians to pay for them rather than examine the issues at hand.
Here is the key question: Will our Republican legislators really support Democratic Governor Brown’s attempt to raise these taxes? I would have voted no during my tenure, and I call on them to do the same. I hope they do.