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Assembler
John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is an Assemblyman representing the 70th District in Orange County. Mr. Campbell is the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. He is the only CPA in the California State legislature and recently received a national award as Freshman Republican Legislator of the Year. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest.


ASSEMBLER

Get Ready for the Tax Increase Brigade
by John Campbell
2/25/02

Unless you have been on an island somewhere training to be in the next Survivor series, you probably know that the state of California is facing a budget deficit this coming year. That deficit is currently estimated to be about $12.4 Billion and that number is increasingly thought to be too low. It is clear that we got into this mess because of profligate spending on the part of Governor Davis and the Legislature when times were good. Government spending has increased 37% since Governor Davis took office. My guess is your salary has not increased at an equivalent rate.

So what will happen now? Well, there is an entire constituency in Sacramento who wants to raise your taxes. Their entire raison d’etre is to increase the size of government and to use other people’s money to execute the programic intrusions into our lives that they want to impose on us. It is not important whether the programs do any good or not – it is only important to display good intentions.

They have 3 major (and uncounted numbers of minor) tax increase proposals on the table right now. The first is to triple your car registration tax. That’s right, triple it. The second is to increase the sales tax by another 1%. By the way, it just went up by 14% on January 1st. And the third is to add new income tax brackets to raise the personal income tax from the current 9.3% to 11%. Yes, this is the same proposal that the voters rejected as a proposition in 1996.

These proposals in combination would raise taxes by about $1100 per year on every household in California. Now you’re probably saying, “Oh come on, they won’t really do that. We’re in a recession. That would be a bad thing for the economy, not fair and a generally poor idea”. You would be right about the bad idea part. But they definitely will try to do it.

You will be told that we must increase taxes to avoid cuts in vital programs; to not hurt kids in schools, etc. etc. We have heard it all before and it’s still untrue. You may even be tempted to give in a little to some form of tax increase. I would like to urge you to hold firm, and here are the reasons why:

* Spending has increased 37% in 3 years. We only have to roll back around half of that to balance the budget. That means spending what we did only 18 months ago.

* Many programs are brand new. They were instituted in the last 3 years. We got along without them for the first 150 years of the state. We can survive at least a couple more years without them.
* Then Governor Bush said while campaigning for President “ There comes a time when every program must be judged a success or a failure. Where we find success, we should reward it, repeat it, make it the standard. And where we find failure, we should call it by its name.” Truer words were never spoken.

* There are 44,000 more State employees now than 3 years ago. 44,000! None of these are local teachers, police or firefighters. Who are they? What are they doing?

* There is an axiom in government. The government will spend what it takes in. If all taxes in California were doubled tomorrow, the money would be spent in 6 months, and the same people who increased the taxes would lament that it was still not enough. Case in point – the state blew a $12 billion surplus in 2000.

* Taxes and government spending in California are already at the highest level per capita since the original Proposition 13 was passed in 1978. To raise taxes again would be to effectively go back to tax levels that caused a public uprising.

* In the last week of January, the Assembly passed bills for programs that would cost an additional $228 million dollars in the middle of this budget crisis. Is there any more evidence that spending can’t be restrained?

* There is a program called the Child Health Disability Prevention Program that costs $70 million per year and is completely duplicative of another recently expanded federally-assisted program called Healthy Families. And we’ve had these redundant programs for 4 years. This is just one example of the sort of thing we need to get rid of, whether we have a budget deficit or not.


I could go on and on. But suffice it to say that we must all resist the pleas for tax increases. We must be strong and vocal so we can win the day. And if we lose, it may be time for another taxpayer revolt at the ballot box.

 

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