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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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BOE Member George Runner

Amazon Compromise Both Good and Bad

I’m glad the Governor signed compromise legislation today to help get some California affiliates back to work and bring thousands of Amazon.com distribution jobs to California. That’s very good news.

Unfortunately, this legislation is by no means a cure-all. It does nothing to solve the long-term problems created by the Legislature’s botched efforts to compel out-of-state retailers to serve as California’s tax collectors.

Absent a federal solution, which is highly unlikely in such a short time frame given all of the competing interests, we’ll be right back in the same mess in a year. The State of California will again be killing California jobs, driving away investment and inviting costly litigation.

Let me be clear: this compromise legislation, while welcome, provides only a short-term delay to a bad law that will never produce the revenues, nor the level-playing field, its proponents imagine.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Why I Support the Amazon Deal

AB 155, as proposed to be amended, will retroactively repeal the “Amazon Tax” for a year or longer, allowing time for impacted parties to seek a federal solution to the dispute.

This is far from a perfect plan, but politics is the art of compromise. It’s a good thing when competing interests are able to come together on a contentious issue.

The deal provides at least a one year reprieve for affiliate businesses whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the dispute. It allows time for impacted parties to seek a federal solution to this issue. Congress has always been the right venue for this conversation.

However, I’m disappointed that this deal provides no certainty for thousands of affiliates who partner with out-of-state online retailers other than Amazon. The uncertainty will discourage these companies from creating new jobs and investing in our state.

Furthermore, the Legislature refused to include a pathway to immediately bring Amazon jobs to California. I’ll be working with Amazon and legislators to find a way to expedite their presence in order to bring thousands of new jobs to our state as soon as possible.

Throughout the year… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Any Amazon Deal Must Be About Jobs

Media reports indicate that Amazon.com and legislative leaders have struck a deal to delay implementation of the “Amazon Tax” for at least a year.

I’m withholding judgment until I see the actual language of the deal. But I can say this much: any deal must be about California jobs.

Will this deal protect California’s remaining affiliate businesses? Will it bring back the businesses destroyed by the failed ‘Amazon Tax?’

Will it encourage new investment and job creation in our state by Amazon and other online retailers? Or will it continue to punish those out-of-state companies that dare to provide jobs and income for… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Governor Brown Shouldn’t Count on “Amazon Tax” Revenue

According to the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown is “leaning against” a proposed deal to bring an estimated 7,000 Amazon.com jobs to California. The Governor is concerned that a deal would somehow cost the state revenue.

If the Governor truly believes the ‘Amazon Tax’ is going to generate millions in revenue for the state this year, he’s mistaken. Board of Equalization staff have determined that the projected $200 million in revenue will not materialize this year.

As of today we’re not aware of a single online retailer that has registered with BOE to collect sales tax because of AB 28X. According to Board of Equalization staff, the number of out-of-state registrations in July 2011 was actually lower than July 2010.

Additionally, should a referendum qualify for the ballot, the law would be suspended until a vote of the people in June or November of next year. That would mean the ‘Amazon Tax’ would be a guaranteed money loser this fiscal year, since terminated affiliates will pay… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Ploy to Block “Amazon Tax” Vote Outrageous

On the very day Governor Brown spoke about job creation, legislators are concocting an outrageous ploy to prevent the people from voting to overturn the ‘Amazon Tax.’

Clearly these lawmakers are afraid the public is poised and ready to vote down the failed ‘Amazon Tax’ that is costing our state jobs.

Instead of continuing their attack on out-of-state online retailers, the Governor and Legislature ought to be asking these companies how we can work with them to get Californians back to work.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Government is greediest actor in “Amazon Tax” debate

Editorial boards and newspaper columnists are quick to assign “greed” as the motive driving Amazon, eBay and others to oppose a new law aimed at making more out-of-state online retailers collect sales tax on behalf of the State of California. But the greediest actor in this drama isn’t Amazon —- it’s the government.

You see, online retailers didn’t pick this fight. State lawmakers did —- out of misguided lust for revenue they’ll never see.

Put aside the rhetoric and consider the facts. Under the U.S. Constitution, state lawmakers can’t compel out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax unless those retailers have a physical retail presence —- known as “nexus” —- in our state. Californians are supposed to pay use tax —- the equivalent of sales tax —- on out-of-state purchases, but few do.

It works the same way in reverse. California businesses making out-of-state sales in states where they have no brick-and-mortar retail presence don’t have to register with the tax bureaucracies in those states, collect and remit sales tax or be subject to audits. In five states where Amazon collects and remits sales tax, many California… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Jerry Brown Signs Away Affiliate Jobs

Even as Governor Jerry Brown lifted his pen today to sign the so-called “Amazon Tax” into law, thousands of affiliates across California were losing their jobs.

Major out-of-state retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com are terminating their California affiliate advertising programs in response to this legislation. I’ve been warning for months that this would happen, but apparently these warnings fell on deaf ears.

The so-called ‘Amazon tax’ is truly a lose-lose proposition for California. Not only won’t we see the promised revenues, we’ll actually lose income tax revenue as affiliates move to other states.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Democrat Budget A Sham to Keep Legislators’ Paychecks Flowing

Make no mistake, the Democrats’ budget isn’t about solving California’s fiscal problems—it’s only goal is to ensure lawmakers keep their paychecks flowing.

When voters last fall granted Democrats their wish of majority-vote budgets, they demanded lawmakers forfeit their pay if those budgets are not approved on-time. But it was never the voters’ intention for lawmakers to approve a sham budget simply to keep their paychecks coming.

What’s worse is that to protect their own pay, Democrats are poised to sacrifice the paychecks of thousands of California small businesses known as affiliates. Up to 25,000 of these Internet entrepreneurs will lose their affiliate status if Democrats approve a so-called ‘Amazon tax.’ According to the Board of Equalization’s analysis, ‘termination of affiliate programs would have an adverse impact on state employment’ and ‘lead to lower revenues.’

The dumbest idea of all is the Democrats’ plan to sell state buildings for one-time revenue. If lawmakers want real one-time dollars, they should consider my proposals to raise billions in revenue by (1) granting an interest and penalty holiday to spur… Read More

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