Prop. 25: New Front in Long War Against Prop. 13

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Proposition 25 is the latest weapon against Proposition 13, but backers don’t want voters to know it.

Statewide polls taken in recent years consistently show Proposition 13
to be as popular as it was 32 years ago when it passed with nearly
two-thirds of the vote. While the general public supports the landmark
measure with its limitation on property tax increases and requirement
of a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to increase state taxes,
politicians and government employee union leaders continue to see
Proposition 13 as a barrier to their draining every dime from taxpayers.

Writing about the campaign to pass Proposition 13, the measure’s
author, Howard Jarvis, wrote, "Virtually all of the howlers against
Proposition 13 had their noses buried deeply in the public trough. They
were on a gravy train provided by the taxpayers, and they wanted to
ride that train at the taxpayers’ expense until they reached the
promised land of exorbitant pensions for the rest of their lives."

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Howard Jarvis Was Crazy

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 changed the political landscape
both within California and nationally.  Thirty-two years after its
passage, candidates for governor still vie to convince voters that they
are the strongest supporters of this landmark law.  Undoubtedly, this
would make Prop 13 author Howard Jarvis very happy.

Ironically, 1978 was also the last time Jerry Brown ran for governor.  
The "boy governor" was running for a second term against then Attorney
General Evelle Younger.  The overwhelming 65% vote for Proposition 13
in the primary election spurred both candidates to scramble to be
identified with this big winner.

Brown, who had originally opposed the measure, and Younger, who had
given only lukewarm support, both approached Howard Jarvis asking him
to cut television spots on their behalf.

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The Ghost of Enron

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Ken Lay, the former CEO of Enron, loved the idea of a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide.  Ken Lay, a Greenie?  Of course.  He was chasing green his whole life.  Cap-and-trade, according to the felonious Mr. Lay, would "do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative."

Enron brass may have been criminals, but they were smart.  Enron made their money trading stuff, and the mother-of-all markets is for carbon dioxide.  Yup, the very stuff that we all exhale with every breath and that is generated by cars, air conditioners, stoves, washing machines, livestock  . . .  just about every human endeavor that involves energy.

But there is a big problem trying to trade in a commodity for which there is no natural market.  You see, the law now is that Americans do not need a permit to breath.  But if crafty market manipulators were somehow able to get government to create such a market, and if those same crafty capitalists could control that market, they would become very, very wealthy.

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More Attacks on the Two-Thirds Vote

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Nearly one month into the new fiscal year that began on July 1, there
is growing concern that Democrat leaders will attempt an end-run around
the Proposition 13 requirement that tax increases must be approved with
a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

The state faces a $19 billion budget deficit, but instead of cutting
waste and out-of-control spending, Democrats are looking for schemes to
increase taxes with a simple majority vote.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Democrats have tried an end-run
around the state Constitution. In January 2009, they tried to pass
billions in tax increases with a majority vote. The Howard Jarvis
Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit against these unconstitutional
tax increases, and almost immediately the Governor announced he would
veto the plan.

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We’re All ‘Aints’ Now

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The current NFL champions are the New Orleans Saints.  But thirty
years ago, they were horrible.  The team’s play was so embarrassing
that when a local sportscaster recommended fans wear bags over their
heads at home games, thousands responded.  The bag-head protesters
became known as the "Aints." The practice of fans wearing bags to
express discontent with  especially poor performing sports teams has
now become a custom  throughout the United States.

If
the California Legislature were a professional sports franchise,
Californians would be reaching for their bags.  They would, that is,
if  they could afford to pay the proposed "bag tax."

That’s
right; our embarrassing Legislature is working on another way  to cost
average citizens money.  Assembly Bill 1998 would punish  consumers by
banning lightweight, convenient plastic grocery bags —  often reused
at home as trash bags and to carry lunches to school and  work — and
require grocers to offer paper bags at a charge of a least a  nickel.
The bill allows the charge to go higher. Plastic
bag ban backers say the bag "fee" is not a tax, because  shoppers can
bring their own bags and avoid paying.  However, San  Francisco, which
has a similar ordinance, has not seen a significant  increase in
reusable bags, just more consumers using paper bags,  according to the
California Grocers Association.

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Taxpayers Deserve a Better Return on Their Investment

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Imagine
walking through a California public school and hearing the voices of
students singing "I am special" to the tune of "Frere Jacques."  One
might look through the classroom window expecting to see kindergartners
about to enjoy Graham crackers and milk — or perhaps a more
politically correct snack.

Now back to real life, where singing choruses of self-affirming music,
such as "I Am Special" is part of the curriculum in a college course
called "Self Esteem" taught at CSU Fresno.

Students preferring to attend UCLA can enroll in a class on electronic
dance music that explores "the political and cultural implications of
the relentless hedonism of the dance floor."   And at UC Berkeley, they
can take a course entitled, "Sex Change City: Theorizing History in
Genderqueer San Francisco" where they learn all about "the regulation
of gender-variant practices in public space by San Francisco’s
Anglo-European elites."

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Government Picking Winners and Losers at Taxpayers’ Expense

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

It generates few headlines, so many taxpayers are unaware that local
governments continue to pump millions of dollars of tax increments –
property tax revenue usually withheld from schools and other essential
services — to fund pet projects that may not be in the public
interest. This is all done under the guise of "Community
Redevelopment."   

One of the most common misuses of redevelopment funds is to bribe
businesses, like auto malls or big box stores, to relocate in a
particular community.   The result is often a bidding war between
cities, each trying to outdo the others to provide the most generous
subsidies and tax breaks to land a favored business.  Reforms enacted
in 1994 which permit tax sharing designed to address this problem have
only been partially successful.

It is hard to find a taxpayer who thinks that government should be in
the business of using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers in
the private sector economy, and this is why local officials try to
operate their redevelopment schemes with as little notice as possible.
However, when the deals go sour, it is hard to keep these expensive
failures under wraps. 

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Don’t Mess With Proposition 13

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Thirty-two years ago, Time magazine wrote about the passage
of  Proposition 13, "That angry noise was the sound of a middle-class
tax  revolt erupting and its tremors are shaking public officials from
Sacramento to Washington D.C."

The power of Proposition 13 to shake up the political landscape and
topple politicians, who attempt to undermine it, remains undiminished.

Just Ask Steve Poizner who ran as a fiscal conservative in the
Republican primary for governor while carrying the baggage of having
spent $200,000 to pass an initiative that has made it easier to
increase  property taxes for bonds that have cost taxpayers nearly $40
billion.   While he pleaded that he regretted his prior actions,
taxpayers,  especially homeowners, had a problem dismissing this, as
well as another  Poizner backed effort to increase property taxes, from
their minds when  they entered the voting booth.

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Licking the Knife Blade

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Like
the proverbial wolf that continues to lick the knife blade because  it
enjoys the taste of its own blood, the Democrats are back with  another
huge tax increase.

At a time when the state’s economy and taxpayers are still staggering
under the burden of last year’s $12.6 billion tax increase, Democrats
are pushing a plan to raise taxes by yet another $5 billion and to
borrow an additional $8.7 billion.

Among the proposals are extensions of the increases in the sales,
income  and car tax that were approved last year by the usual suspects,
but  were due to expire after two years.  This goes to prove the adage
that  there is nothing so permanent as the temporary.  In a recent
column,  Joel Fox, the president of the Small Business Action
Committee, provided  a number of excellent examples of "temporary"
taxes that seem never to  disappear.  Among those is the federal
telephone tax established to pay  for the Spanish American War, which
remained in place for 108 years  after the war ended.

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Greed and Ambition Fuel Prop. 14

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Promoters of Proposition 14 on the June ballot are calling it the "open"  primary.

Ah yes, "open" makes it sound so inclusive, so liberating, so
egalitarian — what could possibly be wrong with that?  If you pay
taxes  in California, the answer is: plenty!

Prop. 14 is the result of collusion between an ambitious politician,
newly appointed Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, and entrenched Sacramento
spending interests. A year ago, then-Senator Maldonado, a Republican,
sold his vote for the most massive tax increase in the history of all
50  states, in return for an agreement to place a measure on the ballot
that would make it easier for him to run for statewide office. That
measure is Proposition 14.

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