national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]
















Jon Coupal- Columnist

Jon Coupal is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go to Coupal index]

Taxpayers Bracing for New Attacks
More anti-taxpayer initiatives on the way...
[Jon Coupal]

Taxpayers throughout California are relieved that Proposition 56, a public employee union-backed measure to make it much easier to raise taxes, was soundly defeated.

This attack on Proposition 13's requirement that new or higher state taxes receive a two-thirds vote of the Legislature was rejected 34 percent to 66 percent, almost the identical margin by which voters approved Proposition 13 in 1978.

However, the celebration is restrained. Proposition 56 was only the beginning of a renewed onslaught on the California taxpayer. Public employee union leaders are using their members' dues to come after taxpayers like major leaguers on steroids pursuing the homerun record. Record spending on ballot measures seeking new taxes is a virtual certainty.

Already the California Teachers Association-backed measure to increase property taxes on businesses large and small -- including apartment buildings -- is being circulated for the November ballot.

To get an idea of what is to come, it is instructive to look back at the campaigns waged on behalf of the last two statewide measures to wring more from taxpayers. Proposition 39, which passed in 2000 and made it easier to raise taxes on homeowners to pay for school bonds, and the just defeated Proposition 56 had a great deal in common. Millions of dollars were spent to play up superficial but attractive sounding features while never mentioning increased taxes. But tax increases were at the heart of both.

When Howard Jarvis campaigned for Proposition 13 he was blunt about the need to cut taxes and the waste in government. Love him or hate him -- and there are many in both camps -- he made his goals clear and his honesty and integrity were generally acknowledged.

Today campaigns for ballot measures begin with high priced consultants who are wizards at making the unpalatable appear appetizing. Clearly many of these spin doctors missed instruction when they were kids on the importance of telling the truth. To them, a lie is only bad if it is not believable.

In the case of Proposition 39, it was promoted as being all about "accountability" because the idea of accountability fares well in voter surveys and focus groups. Proposition 39's sole purpose was to make it easier to pass school bonds that property owners are exclusively obligated to repay, but backers knew that saying they wanted to raise taxes would be the kiss of death. To distract voters from seeing that Proposition 39 would lower the traditional two-thirds vote to pass local school bonds to 55 percent, they wrote in all kind of cosmetic accountability including annual audits of bond funds, and a prohibition against using bond money for salaries, even though both provisions were already part of existing law.

However, this allowed backers to spend nearly $25 million on television advertising touting the already existing accountability provisions.

Wealthy contributors to Proposition 39 were told that they could expect a $20 billion return on their investment. In this one case backers were honest. In fact, they understated the result. Since the beginning of 2001, nearly $29 billion in new local school bonds have been approved and many homeowners are already feeling the pinch.

Nothing succeeds like success and this "coat the poison pill with sugar" approach became the template for the campaign to pass Proposition 56. Surveys revealed that the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes is very popular, but the Legislature is not. So consultants came up with a plan to make it look as if Proposition 56 was actually an attack on lazy and irresponsible lawmakers and it would make them "accountable," a word we've seen before. Anyone with a radio, or a television or a mail box was subjected to the public employee union leadership's deceitful $16 million campaign to gain easier access to taxpayers' wallets.

Fortunately, voters in the spirit of the axiom, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me," saw through the latest scam to raise taxes and overwhelmingly rejected it.

Although this result is encouraging, the future is uncertain. It is a sure bet that at this moment Machiavellian consultants and deep-pocketed special interests are working together on a new "witches brew" intended to hex already overburdened taxpayers into opening their wallets. CRO

copyright 2004 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association


Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005