Pledge to Hold Line on Taxes Tested by 66 Bills to Raise Taxes $11 Billion

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Following the November 2012 election in which two major tax increases passed (Proposition 30 and 39), Governor Jerry Brown and the leaders of the California legislature pledged to hold the line on taxes. Apparently, the message did get to the rank and file. According to a report by the California Taxpayers Association, the legislature considered or is considering a total of 66 bills that combined would increase taxes and/or fees $11 billion if they all became law.

While California still faces what the governor calls a “Wall of Debt” and the state has unfunded liabilities, the annual budget enjoys a surplus. That hasn’t stopped legislators from seeking revenue increases for programs unrelated to the outstanding liabilities.

CalTax reports that five of the bills have already been signed into law imposing $355 million in an additional burden on taxpayers.

Some of the active bills with hearings set in the summer session are: A hospital quality assurance fee; tax increase on underground storage tanks; real estate recording fee; and various vehicle fees and taxes.

High profile measures that are currently on hold: beverage, oil and cigarette tax increases; a plastic bag tax; taxes on business property and more vehicle taxes.

As they say in many advertisements: this is a partial list.

In addition to the taxes already approved and signed into law, how many more will get around the pledge to hold the line on taxes?

That position could be like a line drawn in beach sand overwhelmed by an incoming tide of taxes.

Why all the tax proposals after the success of the November ballot measures? Clearly, some legislators and special spending interests believe that the message garnered from the election was that the people are willing to raise more taxes.

Unlikely. But the tax promoters feel pushing the envelope by raising different fees and taxes that hit varying groups will not lead to a tax revolt. Given the number of bills to raise revenue and the proposals for even greater tax increases that could find their way onto the coming 2014 ballot, that envelope will likely be pushed until it bursts.

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