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Katy Grimes

Contrasts In The CA Race For Secretary Of State Are Stark

The contest for Secretary of State between Republican Pete Peterson and Democrat Alex Padilla appears to be a classic race between a citizen politician and a career bureaucrat. Padilla, 41, is a termed out State Legislator, and a former Los Angeles city councilman. Peterson, 47, leads the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University, is a business owner, and was the first Executive Director of Common Sense California, a bipartisan, nonprofit “think-and-do tank” devoted to improving civic participation in California.

Their “top two” primary race in June was very close though only 25 percent of registered voters in California… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Sales Tax Revenue on Track

It’s too early to know for sure, but so far sales tax revenue this year appears to be largely on track to meet the state’s budget needs.

The latest general fund sales and use tax revenue numbers show that from July through September the State Board of Equalization received $4.64 billion in revenue. That’s just two and a half percent shy of the Department of Finance’s budget projection of $4.76 billion.

Of course, I can’t help but think that if more Californians had jobs, these revenue numbers would be even stronger.

The latest numbers do not reflect the recent spike in gas prices. And those high fuel prices have the potential to create a tax windfall for state and local government.

Earlier this year I proposed legislation capping rising fuel taxes. Unfortunately, it failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

We don’t know yet how much revenue will come in this month. But we do know one thing for sure: Californians will pay plenty in tax.… Read More

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

California Falls to 50th in New Business Startups

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, a new study provides even more bad news for California’s job creation prospects and overall budget picture. According to Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., California has fallen from first in the nation for new business formations to a dismal rank of 50th.

According to the report’s authors:

California’s economic woes and instability have been well-documented, and this data makes another case for how bad things have gotten there. California had the most net new business establishments in 2009 (more than 12,500) and 2008 (32,000-plus); in fact, it ranked either first or second from 2001 to 2009. But the Golden State sank all the way to 50th in 2010 with more than 4,600 fewer new establishments than the previous year.

Could it be that California’s business climate has become so hostile that entrepreneurs now feel they mustleave the state in order to successfully launch a new business endeavor? This news should be a wake-up call to Governor Brown and the Legislature.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Let the People Decide Amazon Tax

Democrat lawmakers are protesting a proposed referendum on California’s new “Amazon Tax” law. But keep in mind that this issue isn’t about Amazon. It’s about the thousands of California jobs the “Amazon Tax” places in jeopardy.

The lawmakers who authored the ‘Amazon Tax’ should be ashamed to appear in public. Their law has failed to achieve their goals. Instead it is punishing thousands of California small business affiliates who are losing income and may even be forced to leave the state.

The Legislature should admit its mistake and repeal the Amazon Tax. But short of that, the fastest way to save California jobs is through a referendum rather than years of costly litigation. Let the people engage in the debate and decide the issue for themselves.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Qualified Purchasers Survey

The “Qualified Purchasers Program” was created by the State Legislature, when it approved Assembly Bill X4 18 in 2009. I was serving as a Senator at the time and voted against the legislation. I continue to believe this new use tax collection program is a costly mistake.

To date BOE has identified more than 500,000 businesses as “qualified purchasers” and has automatically registered many of them with a “use tax” account. A qualified purchaser is defined as a service enterprise with more than $100,000 in gross receipts per calendar year that is not already registered with the Board of Equalization.

Most people are understandably confused about ‘use tax.’” The use tax applies to all Californians when you purchase items from a retailer who is not located in California and not registered to remit tax to California. Prior to the creation of the Qualified Purchaser Program, there were already two different ways for Californians to report use tax—(1) BOE Form 79b and (2) a dedicated line on state income tax forms.

My review of this new… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Lower Sales Tax Rate Will Be Good for California

The statewide sales and use tax rate will decrease from 8.25 percent to 7.25 percent on July 1, 2011. This is great news for overtaxed Californians, who bear the sixth highest overall tax burden in the nation. A lower sales tax will help our state’s economy and help job creation.

There’s still time for a budget deal before July 1, but it’s already too late to extend the higher sales tax. According to a June 6 Board of Equalization letter, the minimum amount of time necessary to notify retailers of a sales tax rate change is 15 days.

In May 2011 the Board of Equalization notified approximately 680,000 California retailers and out-of-state businesses that make sales in California that the statewide sales and use tax rate will decrease from 8.25 percent to 7.25 percent on July 1, 2011.

Temporary taxes often have a way of sticking around—keep in mind that the 1991 ‘temporary’ 1.25% sales tax increase is still with us today! It will be good for California if this latest sale tax hike goes away and stays away,… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Governor Should Veto “Amazon Tax”

Today I called upon Governor Jerry Brown to veto the so-called “Amazon Tax” recently approved as a budget trailer bill by the Legislature. You can read my letter below or here.

June 17, 2011

Dear Governor Brown:

I am writing to request your veto of Assembly Bill 28X (Blumenfield), the so-called “Amazon Tax.”

As an elected member of the State Board of Equalization, the agency responsible for use tax collection, I am concerned that in its hunger for revenues the California Legislature is traveling down a legally suspect and dangerous path. Rather than educate California taxpayers on their use tax obligations when making purchases from out-of-state sellers, the Legislature is stretching the definition of nexus to the point of absurdity and to the detriment of California’s economy and jobs.

Proponents of AB 28X claim it will “create fairness” by “leveling the playing field” between brick and mortar retailers and online sellers and generate $200 million in new revenues for the state. But in reality the measure… Read More

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