While the legislature is in session, the National Federation of Independent Business/California will be profiling anti-small business bills and initiatives and the adverse effect they would have on California’s job creators. This is the first column of the 2013 series.
2012 was tough for small business owners – really tough. Higher taxes passed with Prop. 30, many business friendly candidates for the Assembly and Senate lost and regulations continued to strangle small employers. But small business owners, with their steely resilience and resolve, did not give up hope, praying that their voices were heard by Sacramento and that perhaps, just maybe, changes might be in store that would make California more business friendly.
Alas, that optimism was short lived once the bill introduction deadline passed and the Legislature’s true intentions came to light. Even though Californians just passed one of the highest tax increases in the state’s history this past November, our elected officials want more in the form of local parcel taxes. There are eight – count them, eight – constitutional amendments being considered right now that would lower the threshold for local governments to pass increased parcel taxes in one form or another. And the dirty little secret about these bills – they are yet another attempt to change Prop. 13 and the thresholds it created.
The reality is that parcel taxes pass quite easily with the current standard of two-thirds approval. People understand the need for better parks and recreation programs, libraries and public safety like police and fire. Their neighbors serve on the boards and commissions that govern those services – they see the effects of cuts personally. So why lower the vote requirement for these taxes to pass? The answer is simple: Sacramento wants more. More of your hard earned tax dollars, more money to spend on pet projects…more, more, more!
What many people may forget is that the passage of these taxes has a layered effect. Start with the burden of additional taxes with Prop. 30, and then add your local increases on top of that. Soon you begin to realize that a ‘small increase’ adds up to real money! Small business owners are like everyone else – they have budgets to manage and bills to pay. Add more tax burdens and they have to make up that cost somewhere else.
A suggestion to our elected officials in Sacramento: instead of continuing to treat Main Street like an ATM, how about introducing eight bills that reduce the cost of doing business, provide regulatory reform or stem the tide of lawsuit abuse? Let’s make an effort to propose legislation that actually helps small business owners protect and create jobs – not drive them out of the state. We’d all be better off for it.