Know your ballot: vote yes on Proposition 26

Britten Fay

In order to maintain our ideals without breaking our state, Californians must vote yes on Proposition 26 this November.

Proposition 26 will help balance idealism with fiscal responsibility by closing loopholes that allow new taxes disguised as fees to be passed by a simple majority vote. The new measure will require that these fees be approved by the same supermajority vote from the legislature as stated in Proposition 13.

The problem is Californians have been notorious suckers for cuddly new measures without considering whether we can afford it. This is often the fault of the legislature when they use broad language about health, education, transportation or police and fire departments that stabs at the heart of voter emotion rather than appeal to their rational logic.
Consider that during the early throws of the recession, voters passed Proposition 1A in 2008, approving funding of a high-speed train that would “provide Californians a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to driving and high gas prices.”

The measure passed despite its initial $10 billion partial funding of the projected $40 billion price tag because legislators felt that, once approved, they could coax the additional $30 billion out of the taxpayer’s pockets through a simple majority and voters wouldn’t rise against a project in progress.

Opponents argue that Proposition 26 is another example of big oil and tobacco corporations favoring profits over responsibility for the problems they cause. But Proposition 26 doesn’t reverse any existing environmental protection laws. Furthermore, we shouldn’t make a principle of charging companies on the assumption that they’re going to screw up and make them pay simply for existing. Especially so when we have no evidence that these charges will sit safely waiting for that day, rather than being raided for programs for which they were never intended.

Furthermore, tobacco companies don’t cause health problems. They sell to an existing market of consenting adults. If we’re going to speak of responsibility, let’s be sure that those who choose to use tobacco own up to the consequences of their decision rather than adopt a victim’s mentality that costs all taxpayers.

In addition to protecting businesses from new taxes, landowners who wish to build or improve their existing property or homes would be protected from all manner of petty regulations and fees that amount to scrounging revenue for the state. These taxes currently ding the owner two-fold: they must pay fees to improve their property and pay a higher sales tax if they ever intend to sell the property which is worth more now because of their improvement. If passed, Proposition 26 will block new taxes on existing real estate property, sales or transactions.

We are taxed at one of the highest levels of any state in the nation and what benefits do we see from this? We are deeply in debt, with a projected $19.9 billion budget gap, with no solution in sight.

California needs to face the difficult reality that not every feel-good project can be funded. Gouging prosperous taxpayers and businesses that have other options will simply drive them away.

Likewise, small businesses are crippled by environmental regulations and fees that demand they upgrade machines and vehicles.
The Feds? Their money comes from the entire country and in the current economic climate, everyone else would rightly be furious at the thought of bailing us out. The idea that some faceless rich daddy should come to the rescue of the fiscally irresponsible is as distasteful as seeing any trust fund debutante on TMZ walk away clean from their latest screw up.

California tax facts:

  • Highest state sales tax in the nation – 8.75 percent plus 1 percent county tax
  • Gas tax – 6 percent sales tax, 1.25 percent county tax, 1.2 cents per gallon state underground storage tank fee, plus local sales tax.
  • Vehicle licensing fee doubled in 2009 to 1.15 percent or $1.15 per $100, $11.50 per $1,000, $115 per $10,000

Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota have no deficit.

State pensions for retired workers are reaching beyond what we can afford and some current government leaders are gobbling up inflated salaries unworthy of their performance. Personally, I’m for voting just about every state legislature incumbent out of office, simply as a wake-up call that we won’t tolerate their mismanagement any longer, but that’s another story.