If “the power to Tax is the Power to Destroy,” then liberal Democrats in the California legislature are the political version of the Death Star.
State legislators last week were rebuffed in their attempts to raise taxes on gas, soda, property, tobacco, strip clubs, shopping bags, mattresses and likely other items that Californian’s choose to use or must use in addition to the $7 billion/year in tax increases they approved in 2012. But lest you feared that the emboldened supermajority had given up the fight, Senator Kevin DeLeon has vowed to get his multi-billion dollar tax increase back on the Senate Floor.
Deleon’s legislation, SB 768, increases taxes on cigarettes by billions – but the tax increase is not the only thing that should concern voters. As currently written, SB 768 would circumvent California’s constitutional protections for school funding approved by voters, shortchanging our schools billions, puts additional burdens on struggling businesses with new bureaucratic reporting requirements at time when they can least afford it and takes billions more from taxpayers, while doing absolutely nothing to help balance our state budget, fund schools, keep criminals in jail or fix our state’s roads. . And that doesn’t even include the increase in criminal activity and enforcement costs associated with a likely increase in cigarette smuggling that accompanies the relentless hiking of sin taxes.
Locally, termed out Senator Correa, running for a seat on the state Board of Equalizaton (BOE), has seen first-hand the power to destroy, and intervened on behalf of his constituents and worked across the aisle with others who are interested in reform of taxing agencies.
Correa should look at Deleon’s legislation closely given Correa’s interest in reform if only because by its own admission the BOE suggests that “large scale bulk smuggling can be a problem” after a significant increase in Cig tax (See CDPH and BOE cites). This isn’t a new problem and but it’s one that’s likely to get much worse if this legislation were to be enacted into law.
According to a recent OC Register article, “Organized criminals are producing cigarettes that mimic American-brand cigarettes and selling them in predominantly ethnic Orange County neighborhoods at drastically reduced prices. It’s quick cash and smugglers face light penalties if caught.”
Hopefully the entire Orange County delegation will stand firm against any measure that increases taxes and promotes smuggling and criminal activity.
Now is not the time for higher taxes – they destroy jobs and hamper economic recovery. Nor should government be in the business of promoting smuggling and criminal activity. Do Sacramento politicians really need more of our money to waste with no accountability?