By Ken Hambrick
We are being bombarded with new taxes and bonds (a form of taxation) from all sides.
Unfortunately our state is controlled by tax-and-spend politicians. Jerry Brown is the cheerleader of the pack. He’s had spectacular success.
It’s interesting how those politicians think taxpayers have an endless amount of cash to turn over to them. Taxes are rising far faster than most peoples’ income, and are especially injurious to those of us on fixed incomes.
Let’s take a look at some of the ballot measures and legislation that have put more of our money under politicians’ control through increased taxation.
- Proposition 30 (2012): Officially titled “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education,” it was $9 billion in new taxes in order to fund education and public safety. Please note the term temporary.
- Proposition 55 (2016): Extended by 12 years the income tax provision of Prop 30 (the temporary tax) on incomes over $250,000. Estimated by the Legislative Analyst’s Office to raise between $4 billion and $9 billion annually.
- BART Measure RR (2016): Bonds totaling $3.5 billion, to be paid back with property taxes over 48 years, for system improvements. Bonds are a tax just as surely as are sales and income taxes. Just look at your property tax bill and you will see all the taxes you are paying listed there.
- Senate Bill (2017): Raises $52 billion over 10 years, ostensibly for transportation repair and replacement, especially highways and roads, although $8.5 billion would be earmarked for public transit projects and infrastructure for pedestrians and bicycles. Paying for it will require the 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase and the 20-cent-per-gallon excise tax on diesel fuel that went into effect Wednesday; and a sliding scale fee starting Jan. 1 for the right to drive on California’s roads starting at $25 for cars valued under $5,000, and rising to $175 for vehicles whose value exceeds $60,000. Electric vehicle owners will be billed $100.
- Assembly Bill 398 (2017): Cap and trade extended to 2030. Forecasts $26 billion revenue through 2030. The Legislative Analyst’s Office in March estimated cap and trade could raise gasoline prices anywhere from 24 to 73 cents per gallon in 2031. Cap and trade is a lifeline for the foolish High Speed Rail train to nowhere, which would receive a guaranteed minimum of 25 percent of the revenue from this tax. Another $9 billion is promised for affordable housing. Neither of these have any relationship to environmental issues.
And here’s a new tax idea on the near horizon: Raise Bay Area bridge tolls by $3. The Legislature has approved placing a measure before voters in 2018. Proposed funding uses: 300 new BART cars; construction of more high-occupancy vehicle lanes; expand ferry systems and more express buses; and extend BART service to San Jose.
It fails to address the major element of congestion — cars. No new freeways or highways have been built since the late 1970s. Meanwhile population has increased from 24 million in 1980 to 39 million in 2016.
According to census figures, 79 percent of Contra Costa commuters drive to work while only 11 percent use transit. So shouldn’t the number one priority be roads and highways instead of lightly-used transit?
More taxes will be coming down the road in the form of parcel taxes, school bonds and sales tax. Measure X, a sales tax increase for the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, was defeated in 2016, but it will be back.
It’s time for taxpayers to say no to any new taxes and bonds, and stop this constant drain on our hard-earned money. The politicians have enough money. They just have to use it more efficiently and effectively.
Ken Hambrick is a member and former chairman of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers. He wrote this commentary for Bay Area News Group.