Updated: Aug 5, 2019
The November 2014 ballot is shaping up to be quite crowded for California voters and taxpayers.
Five statewide propositions have already been certified and could possibly be on the ballot.
Dozens of others are somewhere in the process to qualify. We could be looking at everything from a water bond to pension reform to term limits for local officials to increased taxes. Yes that’s right, more taxes.
California taxpayers are already some of the highest taxed individuals in the United States. We have the highest state sales tax, the highest personal income tax and, even with Proposition 13 protecting us, we still rank as having the 15th highest property taxes in the nation.
Just last week a proposed ballot measure was filed that would tax Californians an estimated additional $3 billion a year by more than doubling the vehicle license fee we pay when we register our cars. These dollars would supposedly be dedicated to “critical road repairs, maintenance and expansion across the state.”
The initiative states that “California is facing a transportation funding crises” and “Maintaining our local streets, roads, and highways is a critical priority to protect our economy, our environment, and our quality of life.” Our infrastructure does need continued upkeep, maintenance and improvements, and our current freeway and road systems are inadequate and congested. But that is not for a lack of Californians sending enough tax dollars to Sacramento.
Even the proponents of this initiative agree: “The State Legislature has continually diverted money that is supposed to fund transportation improvements to non-transportation state budget items, robbing critical transportation funding and worsening the condition of our roads, bridges, and highways.”
Californians pay, at 72 cents a gallon, the highest gas tax in the United States. The average nationwide is 49 cents per gallon.
In 2010, with the Fuel Tax Swap, the governor and the Legislature eliminated the requirement that those gas tax dollars be used exclusively for transportation purposes. Spending on maintaining and improving our infrastructure should be a top priority in every state budget.
But eliminating a dedicated funding source and then expecting over-taxed Californians to continue to open their wallets over and over again and trust that their dollars are being well-spent is beyond arrogant.
Add in the fact that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has just announced the state will have billions of dollars in surplus this fiscal year, potentially approaching $10 Billion by 2020. California taxpayers should demand, once budgetary debt is paid down and unfunded liabilities are addressed, that our tax dollars be spent, not on increased programs, but on a dedicated funding source for improving and maintaining our roads and infrastructure system.
Here in Orange County, we have already agreed to tax ourselves, with Measure M, to meet our transportation needs because we believe that maintaining our roads and highways is important.
We should have some expectation that the state of California will do its part, as well. Californians are taxed enough. Voters should say no to any attempt at increasing that burden no matter how good the intentions are.
Sacramento needs to prove they can responsibly budget the dollars they already have before we agree to send them more.
By Carolyn Cavecche, President & CEO of the Orange County Taxpayers Association
Published in the Orange County Register, Nov. 25, 2013