With many families and small businesses still struggling to make ends meet, Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for fiscal restraint with the state’s 2014 fiscal year budget came as welcome news. Following years of budget deficits, California taxpayers have reason to be encouraged that the state will finally live within its means and begin to put money away for future economic downturns. That is, if members of the Legislature do not go on a new spending spree and start a campaign for even more tax increases.
Despite the fact that Californians pay the highest gas, sales and income taxes in the nation, politicians are eagerly introducing dozens of proposals to create new taxes and fees. Reports are that the Legislature will consider new taxes on oil, soda, tobacco and plastic bags, with more anticipated.
California doesn’t need new taxes. Clearly, if we have enough money as the governor’s budget projects to pay our bills, increase funding for schools, set aside money for a reserve fund and deal with some of the state’s debt, we are not in need of more tax increases. Any new taxes or fees will only hurt our economic recovery and cost the state jobs.
A recent study by the California Foundation for Commerce and Education found that just increasing the tobacco tax would result in more than 11,000 jobs lost statewide.
Voters agreed to raise taxes in 2012 and were assured that money would be spent responsibly and prudently. Less than three months later, more taxes and fees were introduced in the Legislature.
Legislative leaders and the governor have both pushed for fiscal restraint this year. We need to support their position. We need to tell those legislators who are advocating for increased spending and higher taxes that they are pushing us toward a new fiscal cliff.
California has a boom-bust economy. Not long ago, we were debating budgets of $92 billion. Now we’re debating a budget of $106 billion.
How we spend now, how prudently we use our resources now, how much we set aside now and how we hold the line against new taxes and fees will determine how we weather the next economic bust.
Originally published in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Los Angeles Daily News and other newspapers in the Los Angeles News Group.