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BOE Member George Runner

Taxpayers Speak Out Against Unjust Fire Tax

For the second time in as many years, the State of California is mailing hundreds of thousands of fire tax bills to rural Californians who live in the so-called State Responsibility Area. The bills are hitting mailboxes even as the class action lawsuit I’m backing has finally received a green light to move forward.

As Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association is fond of saying, “the wheels of justice grind slowly.” Although I believe the lawsuit against the fire tax will ultimately prevail, it appears the trial won’t be until next year at the earliest.

Delayed justice means that hundreds of thousands of rural Californians, whether they can afford it or not, must write another check for up to $150 per habitable structure to the State of California to pay this unfair and unjust tax.

Given the confusing and controversial nature of this tax, I’m sponsoring a series of regional telephone town hall meetings to give impacted taxpayers—many of whom are senior citizens living on fixed incomes in mobile homes—an opportunity to receive information and voice their questions and concerns. To date, more than 2000 taxpayers have participated.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Gas Tax Hike Based on Guesswork

A 3.5 cent per gallon increase in California’s excise tax on gasoline takes effect July 1. As a result Californians will be forced to begin paying the highest gas taxes in the nation.

You have a right to be angry and demand explanation from your elected officials.

I too am upset and frustrated by this tax increase, which stems from a complicated law known as the ‘fuel tax swap.’

The goal of the fuel tax swap wasn’t good tax policy. Instead, its sole purpose was to allow the Legislature to move more than a billion dollars in gas tax revenues into the state’s General Fund.

I voted against the fuel tax swap. I also voted against the 3.5 cent per gallon rate increase that takes effect July 1.

Although the Board of Equalization must implement the law as written, a certain amount of discretion comes into play. Most of the July 1 increase is based on uncertain projections of future gas prices.

I don’t think we should be in the business of raising taxes based on guesswork.

A video of Runner questioningRead More

BOE Member George Runner

California’s Revenue Roller Coaster

The constitutional deadline is just two weeks away and the Governor and Legislature are busy negotiating the state’s next budget. With Democrats now holding enough seats in the Legislature to pass the budget without Republican input, we can expect a budget that reflects their priorities and grows the size of the government. Fortunately for them, budget revenues this year are exceeding expectations and multi-billion budget deficits appear to be a thing of the past—at least for now.

As you can see in the graph, California’s “roller… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Brown’s May budget revision balances only by ignoring unfunded liabilities

SACRAMENTO — Balancing the economic realities of the state budget with political influences surely is a challenging task. Unfortunately, in California it is a task which few administrations have managed in recent state history.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday morning that despite a state budget surplus, his May budget revision included projected lower budget figures for fiscal year 2013-14, which begins on July 1, than for the previous fiscal year. The reasons are one-time revenue surges because of federal tax changes that last only one year; and the retroactive part of the Proposition 30 tax increase for 2012.

The result will be less program spending, but with most of the spending increases focused on schools and Medi-Cal.

“We have climbed out of a hole with a Proposition 30 tax,” Brown said, referring to his 2012 initiative which increased taxes on those with incomes exceeding $250,000; and increased sales taxes on everyone. “This is not the time to break out the Champagne,” said Brown, who still called for caution despite an uptick in the state’s revenues.

“I am pleased that for the first time since I was elected to the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Vindictive Obamacare bills speeding through Legislature

It’s always good to see the California Legislature proposing more vindictive bills aimed at penalizing employers.

The new “Walmart loophole” bill, AB 880, would require large employers to “pay their fair share when they dump workers onto Medi-Cal by cutting hours or wages in order to circumvent their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act,” according to the bill’s author Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles.

Nice.

Under Gomez’s bill, the ACA threshold for fining businesses would be lowered so that large employers would be fined if their part- or full-time workers are enrolled in Medi-Cal.

The legislation — which is supported by the California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers — “aims to encourage large businesses to offer job-based coverage.”

I’d word that a little differently. The legislation, supported by two of the largest, most aggressive labor unions in the state, aims to force large non-union businesses to cover all employees, regardless of their part-time status.

And remember the other Obamacare penalty bill I wrote about earlier this week:

Read More

Katy Grimes

Pattern developing in reform bill killings

It’s the first day of May. If you haven’t noticed, the California Democratic Supermajority is killing all reform efforts. And the targets are not just Republican bills.

Just yesterday, the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality killed a bill which would have stopped the California Air Resources Board from assessing a very expensive administrative fee on California colleges for implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

SB 497, by Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, said the committee’s failure to approve the bill will likely result in fewer students being able to attend California’s higher education institutions, and higher tuition costs for those who do.

The Senate Education Committee killed SB 441, by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, which would merely have suggested school districts around the state to assess the performance of teachers and school administrators.

This week SB 453, by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, was also killed. SB 453 would have allowed school districts to make staffing decisions based on performance evaluations and factors other than a teacher’s simple date of… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Obama Steals Jerry Brown’s Playbook

Given California’s chronic problems, it’s hard to imagine anyone sees our state as a model. But it’s clear the Obama administration does. And to make matters worse, President Obama is now using schemes from California’s playbook in his bid to impose our failures on the rest of the nation.

Much like Sacramento, Washington is mired in gridlock. The budget never really gets done and politicians seem to stumble from one crisis to the next. Like California Governor Jerry Brown, President Obama lacks the ability to forge true bipartisan consensus to solve problems.

Of course, there’s a… Read More

Katy Grimes

POW!!! California $127 billion in the red

Holy understatement Batman! California is more than $127 billion in the red!

The California State Auditor recently released a report detailing California’s “net worth” as a state.

California is $127.2 billion upside down.

Holy helplessness Batman!

The Assembly Republicans California Budget Fact Check project explains: “As is a common annual practice in the business world, the Auditor totaled up all of the state’s unrestricted assets and income, and then compared them against the state’s liabilities to determine net worth. Factoring all of these things together, California had a negative net worth of $127.2 billion in 2011-12.”

Holy dilemma Batman!

The Budget Fact Check… Read More

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