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Hold Lawmakers Accountable
by Jon Coupal11/8/07

At the end of each summer, the Legislature adjourns so lawmakers can return home and tell their constituents what a good job they are doing.

Some take credit for new programs or projects, but usually only when speaking to those who would directly benefit from new spending. Nearly all would like to convince the voters back home of their frugality with taxpayer dollars.  Most -- even the most liberal -- would have you believe that they are holding the line on taxes in our already high-tax state, and are fighting to make good use of every dollar that taxpayers provide.

Do they tell the truth? After all, these are politicians we are talking about.

At the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association we believe legislators must be held accountable for what they do, not what they say.

Jon Coupal

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]

The HJTA Annual Legislative Report Card is designed to help Californians gauge how their state representatives are actually performing on taxpayer-related issues. For the 2007 legislative season, 49 bills were used to evaluate and grade voting records. Practically all of these bills deal with tax increases -- often masquerading as fees -- or direct assaults on Proposition 13 and Proposition 218, the Right to Vote on Taxes Act.

In a slight change from previous years' methodology, we have double-weighted those bills with the most serious consequences for taxpayers. A complete list of all threats to taxpayers can be found under the Legislative Action section of our website at http://www.hjta.org/threats .

We also made the decision to triple-weight Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, an effort to perpetuate local government's ability to seize private property so it can be turned over to other private interests willing to pay more in taxes, which was our number one target this legislative session.

For this evaluation to be as fair and non-partisan as possible, we have given half-credit for all vote abstentions on bills that would increase the burden on taxpayers. We understand that it can be difficult for lawmakers to resist pressure from lobbyists and the Senate and Assembly leadership to vote yes, and we have chosen to acknowledge this by giving partial credit.

Because we use so many bills in our evaluation, it is very difficult for even the most taxpayer friendly lawmaker to a get a perfect score. Therefore, we wanted to commend the top five legislators for their solid scores and call out the bottom five legislators who made it their aim to make life more difficult and expensive for their constituents.

The Responsible Stewards:

- Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman: 100% - Assemblywoman Mimi Walters: 100% - Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines: 99.1% - Assemblyman Doug La Malfa: 99% - Senator Dennis Hollingsworth: 99%

The most 'Taxing' members:

- Assemblyman Ira Ruskin: 1.8% - Senator Darrell Steinberg: 3% - Assemblywoman Karen Bass: 3.3% - Assemblywoman Sally Lieber: 3.3% - Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier: 3.4%

If your legislator is not listed above, we encourage you to see how they scored by going here: http://www.hjta.org/report_card . Then we recommend you to take the next -- and most important -- step, and contact your legislator's office to express your thanks or concern. To quickly determine who your representatives go here: http://www.hjta.org/contact_legislature .

Years ago, in less politically correct times, a student bringing home a bad report card knew there could be consequences meted out "behind the woodshed." Our representatives should know that those who do not perform well may also face consequences -- at the ballot box. CRO

copyright 2007 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association



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