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.
Get Ready for the Tax Increase Brigade
by John Campbell
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
detre is to increase the size of government and to use other
peoples 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. Thats right, triple it. The second
is to increase the sales tax by another 1%. By the way, it just
went up by 1„4% 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 youre probably
saying, Oh come on, they wont really do that. Were
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 its 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
* 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
* 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 cant 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 weve 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.