I thought I would never see the day that Democrats elected to office in California suggest a tax cut of any kind. They seem to hold classes teaching elected officials about creating new rationale for any way they can transfer more funds from hardworking residents to the coffers of the government to pay for the inflated salaries and benefits of the unionized government workers. Finally, the day has come that something has caught their interest to cut taxes and we should all say Hallelujah.
Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia (D) has authored AB1561, a bill that would eliminate sales taxes on tampons and sanitary napkins. Sales tax in California is collected not only for the state, but for the counties and cities. This bill would not reimburse the cities and counties for the lost revenues from these sales even though a section of the state revenue code allows for that.
This has created quite an interesting discussion. Although the Republicans in the legislature are clear minorities, it would be hard to find a Republican who would vote against any tax decrease of any kind since it is such a unique situation. In fact, it may be the only time they have a chance to vote for a tax decrease in their elected careers. In fact, the State Board of Equalization which has two Republicans voted 4-0 in favor of the bill. The only non-vote for the bill was an abstention by the representative of the State Controller, Betty Yee. One can only assume that Ms. Yee must be anti-woman.
I set out to find out why this new-found tax cutting urge was flowing through the Democrats in Sacramento. Assemblywoman Garcia’s website states “AB 1561 is a bipartisan effort to end the “tampon tax” and bring gender equity to California’s tax code.” When I spoke to the Assemblywoman’s spokesperson, Elena Lee, she did not exactly explain how the law was gaining gender equity for women.
I asked why this bill was being put forward. The first thing I was told by Lee was that tampons are medical devices as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That was the impetus for making these two items exempt from sales taxes. This led to the obvious question why not aspirin? Most medical experts consider aspirin a miracle drug and think that if it were discovered today it would be a prescription drug. Lee stated this was not the focus of the bill. I suggested that if you are treating tampons and sanitary napkins as medical necessities, then why not all over-the-counter drugs? Lee resisted and kept on the subject of aiding women. I then focused on Motrin which has a focus of helping menstrual cramps. Why not add that to the bill? No help from Lee.
Lee left us with this statement: “These are medical devices used solely by women for 40 years of their lives. California government should not be taxing women for being women.” That left me yearning for further discussion about a multitude of other items that should not be taxed. It also made me think this is the kind of doctrinaire comment that is usual used by Democrats to raise taxes. Things have been turned on their head.
One interesting part of the debate on the bill was that Jerome Horton, the chair of the State Board of Equalization, suggested he supported the idea, but felt it should be limited to low-income women. Initially Mr. Horton agreed to an interview regarding the questions I submitted. I asked his staff how the low-income exemption would work. Some have questioned whether women would have to show up to drug stores with tax returns. I asked how the state would replace this revenue which is a favorite question Democrats ask any time Republicans suggest a tax cut. I asked whether this was the beginning of a whole new class of tax-exempt items. Unfortunately, Horton backed out of the interview and stated his comments at the Board meeting would stand.
That’s it folks. The Democrats have finally found something to make a cause for tax cutting – tampons and sanitary napkins. We can only hope that this is the beginning of a cascade of tax cuts that will bring California from being the second highest tax state behind New York to maybe even 3rd or 4th highest tax state. Folks, it is the dawning of a new day in California.