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The latest madness out of Sacramento

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POSTED December 19, 2008 1:08 a.m.
How stupid do they think we are?
After decades of inept leadership and playing Santa Claus to special interests and voters who want the world put don’t want to pay for it, the State Legislature is now trying to play Californians as if we are simpleton morons.
And if we buy what they’re proposing as essential to get us out of the budget crisis, then maybe we are simpleton morons.
The Democratic leadership is trying to get around safeguards put in place so simple majorities can’t raise taxes by coming up with a proposal that would make the Flim Flam man proud. They’ve got legal advice saying they can raise taxes with a simple majority by assuring that it is “revenue neutral.”
How are they going to create this great act of neutrality on our collective pocketbooks?
• First, repeal the 18-cent a gallon excise tax on gasoline as well as the sales tax on gasoline.
• Then they are going to increase state income tax by 2.5 percent, raise sales tax by at least a three quarters of a cent, and put in place several other taxes that apply to those who produce oil and who hire independent contractors.
• Next the state is going to replace the gas taxes they plan to eliminate — they come to about 39 cents a gallon — by adding a 39 cent a gallon gas fee. That money would go to the transportation fund, which is where the sales and excise tax on gas, is currently going.
How in the world is that revenue neutral by simply changing the name of taxes to fees? This isn’t the same as charging a park use fee. It is an unadulterated tax.
With a little luck, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will follow through on his promise to veto the package he said would do nothing but “punish the people of California.”
The state still hasn’t bounced back from the shenanigans that happened last time they had a massive budget deficit just six years ago. They borrowed billions from bond measure accounts — including the water bond — still have yet to repay it. They also have siphoned money off schools, cities, and special districts and have failed to replace it 100 percent as they said they would within several years.
So what’s the solution?
It’s simple, but not easy. End the addiction.
This is a crisis. It isn’t a bump in the road.
The legislature needs to stop living in a fantasy world as well as stop worrying about their collective political hides. They can start with eliminating funding for class-size reduction. No one doubts its effectiveness, but it is quickly coming to the point of keeping schools open.
They need to address the commercial side of the Proposition 13 property tax rolls. Corporations have skirted through without reassessments when property sells based on a loophole. Of course, the legislature doesn’t have the courage to do anything about it because such a move would hurt their biggest donors.
Internet transactions and brick and mortar transactions need to be treated the same when it comes to taxes and regulations. Internet sales no longer need a helping hand.
State agencies — except for those put in place to assure compliance with civil rights such as fair housing laws — that didn’t exist before 1970 need to go.
Collapse duties such as environmental protection into other agencies. Part of the mess at the state level is multi-agencies dealing with the same problem. It creates costly red tape and plenty of jobs for bureaucrats.
Pass legislation that allows the state to get around court orders to give prisoners their space and comforts of home. Put more of them into the same cells. If you think it is going to hurt the efforts to reform criminals, who is kidding who? Reform as is now being done isn’t working. Let’s concentrate our limited resources to helping prevent youth from going down that path.
That should be a start for cutting expenses.
As for revenue, do something straightforward. Add a nickel per gallon in sales tax on gasoline and allow it to go to the general fund. If Republicans don’t go along with that after most of the other items on the cut list are made, then they deserve to be relegated to third party status.
Scott Sadlowski who penned a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s Manteca Bulletin had it right. We lost our way. We lost our principles. We need to admit we all screwed up by living beyond our means.
The solution isn’t going to be painless. We have to wean ourselves off stuff we can’t afford and that includes too much government whether it is in state grants for local projects, class size reduction funds or more bureaucrats to chase even more regulations designed to make the world perfect.
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