HJTA Threatens Lawsuit Over Governor Brown’s New “Fire Tax”

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association announced its intention to sue the State of California if it attempts to collect a new fire tax that could cost homeowners an additional $150 per year. The State’s largest taxpayer organization plans to file a lawsuit on the grounds that the new fire tax qualifies as a tax increase […]

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Jerry Brown Can Be a Hero

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

As part of his ongoing campaign to raise taxes, last week Jerry Brown made a pilgrimage to a major labor confab in Las Vegas. There he delivered a fiery speech to thousands of union delegates, touting his labor credentials and lashing out at Republicans and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, blaming the minority party and […]

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What Citizen Taxpayers Should Know about the Single Sales Factor Dispute

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Last week, Governor Brown made a big splash pushing a business tax reform proposal. This issue involves how national and international corporations are taxed under California law. As the result of the budget deal crafted two years ago (a deal that hit citizen taxpayers hard) corporations were given a choice over how they were taxed. The details aren’t that important for normal people and the issue is a bit complicated. (There was a humorous moment when Darrell Steinberg said “this is simple” and, moments later, Jerry Brown said this is a “complicated issue” and he wasn’t even sure he understood it.)

Whether corporations should be given the opportunity to elect how they are taxed might very well be a legitimate discussion to have. (But Joel Fox makes the valid point that the absence of predictability due to these radical changes in tax policy every few months is a contributing factor to the perception that California is anti-business, if not outright weird).

What is clear is that the elimination of the right to elect would be a tax increase. Pure and simple. Moreover, any such proposal requires a two-thirds vote of each house. The good news is that compliance with Prop 13’s requirement on this issue appears to be a given – even among the Democrats.

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The People’s Initiative Power is in Danger

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Democrats in the Legislature are pushing another power grab and, if they win, California voters lose.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, introduced by Assembly Democrats Mike Gatto and Mike Feuer, would radically enhance the power of the Legislature and two unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats while severely limiting the People’s right to put initiatives on the ballot.

ACA 6 would prohibit any initiative from even being voted on if, in the opinion of either the Legislative Analyst or the Director of Finance, the measure did not “pay for itself.” No exceptions. And if the voters at a future date tried to repeal ACA 6 outright, these same two unelected bureaucrats could determine that such a measure itself ultimately would have a “cost” to government in excess of $5 million and, as such, could simply order that the measure not be placed on the ballot. Under 100-year-old constitutional law in California, only the courts have had the power to order something off the ballot.

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Victory for Taxpayers in San Diego

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The names of San Diego County public employees retiring with six-figure pensions are a matter public record, according to a court ruling in a case brought by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association with amicus briefs filed by the Small Business Action Committee and a number of newspapers.

The 4th District Court of Appeal held, in a published decision that applies statewide, that public employee retirement systems must disclose the names and pension amounts of retired public employees.

This is a significant victory, and a vindication. Even when we have won lawsuits, retirement agencies across the state of California have refused to release their data unless under the threat of lawsuit. Today’s published appellate precedent settles this issue once and for all.

The decision is significant because it requires for the first time that the worksheet of how their pension amounts was calculated must be made public. The worksheet reveals details that explain how some public employees are able to retire with pensions significantly higher than the salaries they earned while employed.

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Your Money or Your Life?

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

It was television that grabbed the viewer by the throat and wouldn’t let go.

Here is how the Los Angeles Times described it:

The dramatic, 30-second ad depicts a woman cowering in her bedroom as she desperately dials 911 and tells an emergency operator that someone has broken into her home. Holding her terrified little daughter, she pleads: “We’re alone here. Please, send someone.”

As a gloved intruder makes his way up the stairs to her bedroom, she becomes increasingly frantic. “You don’t understand,” she tells the operator. “He’s here right now.”

The commercial ends with the woman screaming, “No! No! No!” The sound of a heart beating is heard and then a dial tone.

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Teachers’ Union Strong Arm Tactics

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

California’s most powerful public employee union, the California Teachers Association (CTA), has budgeted $1 million for a May campaign to browbeat and coerce lawmakers and taxpayers into providing more money, through higher taxes, for teachers.

The action items proposed by the CTA range from the silly — convincing the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company to add a labor-union flavor to their line — to the outright threatening — demonstrations that could create major traffic jams in towns and cities.

Apparently, the union representing the second highest paid teachers in the nation – New York pays several hundred dollars a year more – thinks nothing of creating potentially dangerous traffic hazards and making thousands of those who still have jobs in California, late for work.

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Sacramento’s Ongoing War Against Regular Californians

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

If you can afford a 19 percent increase in your electric bill, and are reading this column in a newspaper, you can move on to the sports section. The following will not be of interest to you.

However, if you are a low income, fixed income or even a middle class Californian, you are under assault from Sacramento. Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, has persuaded his colleagues to approve his bill to make energy even more expensive. The current mandate that energy companies get 20 percent of their power from “renewable” sources, will be raised to a third over the next eight years. This will result in an average utility rate increase of 19 percent, according the California Air Resources Board. This is on top of the existing mandate so that the total increased cost to Pacific Gas and Electric customers will be 44 percent, to Southern California Edison customers 34 percent and to those served by the Los Angeles Department of Water a Power it will be 74 percent.

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Lunch with Jerry

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Suppose an acquaintance invites you to lunch. You meet him in front of the restaurant where he announces that he is a little strapped for cash. Turns out he can’t host lunch, but he will split the bill with you. You feel uncomfortable because you are on a brown bag budget, but nevertheless agree.

During lunch, he does most of the talking. It is clear he is trying to impress you. When the bill arrives it amounts to twenty-six dollars. Your companion takes out his wallet and stares intently at its contents for a few moments, before mumbling he has only eight dollars. This is unsettling because you barely have enough money for half the bill. At this point he excuses himself to use the restroom. As you observe him, he crosses the room passes the restroom door and darts out an exit. That’s when the realization hits you that you will be spending the afternoon washing dishes.

You’ve just had lunch with Jerry Brown.

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Time for Taxpayers to Take a Seat at the Table

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

A recent editorial cartoon sums up the tension between average taxpayers and government employee unions. It shows two guys sitting at a bar. One, head in hand and looking glum, is labeled “public sector” and he says to his companion, “They’re trying to cut our pensions…” The other fellow, labeled “private sector,” replies, “What’s a pension?”

If this bar is in California – where the official unemployment rate is 12.5 percent not including those who have completely given up looking for work – Mr. Private Sector might also ask, “What’s a job?”

Over time, how much of the public views those who work for government has changed from “respected civil servants” to “militant special interest” dedicated to preserving and expanding their “entitlements” at any cost to taxpayers. In this case, perception is reality.

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