Katy Grimes

How many tax increases will ‘fix’ California?

There are 230 bond, tax and fee increase proposals on the 2012 ballot in California. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax increase measure is the least of voters’ problems this election.

There are 100 school bond measures on the ballot throughout California. There are more than 30 sales tax increase initiatives, business tax increases, parcel taxes, utility taxes, and hotel taxes. There are even tax increase measures for sodas and abandoned-cars.

How many tax increases will “fix” California?

The answer is easy. None.

What’s really wrong California?

Local governments would have everyone in the state believe that they are struggling to make ends meet. But they grossly misuse the word “struggle.” The only downsizing done in local government has been to cut the lower paid employees who probably weren’t eligible for pensions anyway.

In Sacramento, the City Council is pushing hard to pass several ballot initiatives:

* Measure Q: Sacramento City Unified School District;

* Measure R: Sacramento City Unified School District;

* Measure T: Sacramento (City of) Mandates on Garden and Yard Refuse Disposal;

* Measure U: Sacramento (City of) Sales Tax Increase.

Measure Q would authorize a $346 million school bond. Measure R would authorize a $68 million school bond.

This is just what we don’t need in the corrupted Sacramento City Unified School District. The politicians who call themselves “school board members” who run Sacramento’s city schools want to borrow another $346 million to build new schools, while they still owe $556 million on past construction.

It’s business as usual in Sacramento.

Measure U would add a one-half cent sales tax on the sale of everything in Sacramento for six years.

Eye on Sacramento, a Sacramento area watchdog group, has been fighting the tax increase and trying to keep city residents informed. “City Hall wants to increase the sales tax a half cent, to 8.25 cents, the highest in the region, taking $27 million annually from the local economy for six years,” Eye on Sacramento recently wrote. “With a 460,000 population, that’s $352 annually per resident, or $1,408 for a family of four.”

“Measure U supporters argue city services are underfunded, including police and fire. But 85 percent of the city’s general fund already goes to these departments, with much of that siphoned off in pensions,” the watchdog group reported.

Sacramento does not have many fires, but we still have stunning, new and large fire stations, and four fire fighters on every engine. The majority of the 9-1-1 calls are for medical emergencies.

Eye on Sacramento pointed out that, while city cops refuse to contribute to their own generous pensions, “CHP officers contribute 12 percent of salaries for lesser retirements. Without pension concessions from police, any extra sales tax revenues will only encourage further pension stonewalling.”

Sacramento city government is rife with corruption as well:

* A Utilities Department manager was taking kickbacks from a scrap metals dealer;

* The city council recently approved a 25 percent increase in garbage pickup rates, higher than any other city in Sacramento County. The council did this without a competitive bid process, despite the contract being worth more than $22 million;

* The Sacramento city council recently whisked through the approval of a new four-year labor contract with the local Plumbers and Pipefitters union;

* And, adding insult to injury, the council increased sewer and water rates by a huge 16 percent and 10 percent.

“Local governments and school districts across California, struggling to pay for essentials, are asking voters to approve tax and bond measures,” the Los Angeles Times recently wrote.

While the state has stripped local governments of funds, there was an unholy deal between local and state government to push through tax increase measures in cities and counties all across the state to make up the difference.

But nothing has been done about the unaffordable and escalating pension costs in cities, counties and state agencies.

Instead, schools have stopped spending in the classrooms, forcing teachers and families to provide supplies. And essential school programs have been cut.

Cities have cut back necessary services while increasing rates. In Sacramento, Measure T proposes to end the historic and necessary curbside pickup of yard and tree waste and instead force residents of the “City of Trees” to try and stuff mountains of garden waste in a 96 gallon can. The city has tried to force this change on three separate ballots, and each time voters have rejected it.

How many tax increases will “fix” what ails us?

California is a mess. Tax increases will not fix anything, but will prolong the corruption that seeps from the top down.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,