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Chutzpah Award

By Jon Coupal
If an award were given for political chutzpah, members of the California Legislature would win hands down.

An example of chutzpah – a word whose synonyms include “insolence”, “cheek” and “gall” — would be an expensive restaurant adding a 25 percent tip to the bill after providing poor and insulting service.

Don’t blame California’s beleaguered taxpayers if they feel like diners at the restaurant in the above example.  Our state’s high tax rates in almost every category have resulted in Californians laboring under the second highest tax burden in all 50 states.

In return for these high taxes, roads are crumbling, schools are underperforming and services in general are well below par.  Money that could go to improving government services is syphoned off to support the highest paid state and local government employees in the nation and to provide them pensions in retirement that are as much as five times higher than what similar private sector workers can expect from Social Security.

Even though revenue to state government is surpassing expectations — State Controller Betty Yee has announced that February receipts were $6.6 billion, exceeding estimates by $1 billion, or 18.3 percent – Sacramento lawmakers are demanding more – much more.

State Sen. Robert Hertzberg is promoting an extension of the sales tax, already highest in all 50 states, to services. The goal would be to squeeze another $10 billion annually from taxpayers.

Then there is Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins who proposes a brand new tax on drivers to pay for highway and road repairs in California.  This new “fee” would take $1.8 billion dollars out of the pockets of hard working California citizens over the next five years.  This is especially ironic in that California already has the highest gas tax in the nation.

Not to be outdone, Assemblyman Jim Frazier has introduced a constitutional amendment (ACA 4) that lowers the Proposition 13 mandated two-thirds vote for special taxes to 55 percent, to fund local transportation projects.

Just what is a local transportation project, you might ask?  From the bill, “’local transportation project’ means the planning, design, development, financing, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, improvement, acquisition, lease, operation, or maintenance of local streets, roads, and highways, state highways and freeways, and public transit systems.”  In short, the potential for billions of dollars of higher taxes.

Government bureaucrats and the special interests that contract to provide transportation infrastructure related construction and services, are, no doubt, doing the happy dance at the thought of being handed billions of additional taxpayer dollars.

​​California taxes already rank at or near the top in almost every category.  With state government taking in money hand over fist, can there be any doubt that those California lawmakers promoting new taxes deserve an award for chutzpah?Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.