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. He can be reached through his Assembly
and through the website
for his California Senate campaign.
The Car Tax and its phantom trigger
[John Campbell] 6/20/03
Some months ago, the Governor and the State Controller announced
that the car tax could triple under a "trigger
mechanism" in the law which would allow this tax increase
without any vote and without anyone "pulling" the trigger.
It has been called the "immaculate tax increase" since
it will just happen with no human action.
Many people have questioned
the legal rationale in this tortured ruling. In early April,
a columnist from the Sacramento
me "if certain circumstances make the tax trigger up, what
circumstances make the tax trigger back down?" Good question,
I thought. So, I wrote a letter on April 4th asking the Governor's
Director of Finance, the State Controller and Legislative Counsel
(the attorneys for the Legislature) that very question.
To date, neither the Governor nor the Controller have responded.
But the Legislative Counsel did. And what they had to say is
a bombshell. Remember that it is the Legislative Counsel that
writes all the bills for members of the Legislature. So they
are opining on a law that they wrote. They said:
is no "immaculate" trigger.
Any trigger must be pulled by affirmative action
of the State Controller.
- The tax
cannot go up unless the state is literally out of cash and
cannot pay its
bills. The State just
borrowed $11 Billion and therefore has plenty of cash now.
cash flow of the state must be reviewed monthly and the
tax adjusted back down or up based on the bank account
state at that time.
What does all this mean? The Governor's plan to immaculately
triple your car tax perhaps as soon as tomorrow is not right
and it is not legal. If he does that, your car tax will triple
starting in September. The Controller is the only one who has
any authority to increase it and that authority would only exist
with the state in what is effectively an insolvent condition
which we are not in as a result of the recent borrowing. The
idea that this tax rate could change every month is an unworkable
administrative nightmare in addition to being completely inequitable.
Can you imagine your tax tripling and your neighbors being half
that because his bill came in a different month?
The Governor and the Controller should give up this silly idea
of tripling a tax without a vote of anyone. It is wrong and it
is not legal. And if they proceed, we'll see them in court. And
we'll win. But in the meantime, you'll be paying a higher tax
and the Democrats will be spending us even further into the abyss
with tax money that they don't get to keep.
More fuel on the fire of a populist uprising against a one party
government that believes it is above the law and is drunk with
its own power.