Don't tax me bro [Most commented]
Should Californians make it easier for Sacramento to raise taxes when doing so reflects the will of the majority? State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), in his Times Op-Ed article Tuesday, asks Golden Staters to do precisely that by voting to eliminate the Legislature's two-thirds' approval requirement to boost tax rates, a rule the senator called a "Berlin Wall of budgeting that leaves us all on one side saddled with lingering troubles." And the reader response? No. Varying degrees of no, maybe, but still -- no. In fact, the commentary was so one-sided and heated that reader "Dave in NoHo" expressed dismay over the tone on the discussion board:
This is depressing. Not the Op-Ed piece, but all of you bozos who drive on deteriorating highways and don't understand that tax dollars are used to make repairs, and there's lots more stuff like that. I have no idea what it would take to make you understand that your reluctance to pay taxes is part -- a big part -- of the problem.
"Dave in NoHo" was the exception. Read the rest of the comments by clicking on the link to the discussion board above; below is a sampling of responses, which have been edited only for spelling and minor grammatical tweaks.
Stop whining. You and your political cronies (the public sector unions) already rake in ridiculous amount of money and do no work. All you do is pad your pensions. Meanwhile, our roads, infrastructure, education system and anything else the public sector takes part in are crumbling. This state has gotten to the point of being a national embarrassment. So before you come to the taxpayers wanting more money, I want you to personally agree that you will support the following:
1. Roll back all public sector compensation by 25%.
2. Pledge that you will not lay off one single public employee.
3. Ban political contributions from public sector unions.
4. Prohibit the practice of mandatory union dues.
5. Convert all public pensions to 401(k) and repeal existing defined-benefit laws.
Do those things and then we'll talk.
Yes, removing artificial barriers to adults being able to make decisions certainly seems to make sense. But even as a lefty, I'm concerned about the idea that the most important part of the solution to California's financial mess is to allow for more taxes. In my opinion, Prop. 13 must be addressed first. At the very least, let's consider a split roll, so corporations start paying something close to their fair share. Then let's see where we're at on the revenue side. Next, let's take a step back and really consider whether all our state programs and mandates are not just cost-effective, but cost-beneficial. Are they actually doing what we need them to do? If not (for example locking up way too many non-violent offenders), then let's scrap them in favor of other efforts. Also, let's get rid of artificial term limits, consider a unicameral Legislature (the Senate provides no equalizing effect as in Congress, but simply duplicates the Assembly), and a part-time Legislature that does business and then goes home, as in many other states. My point is that there's much more to budget reform than just removing barriers to taxation, and I think we should broaden the conversation.
-- Clare Mont
California doesn't exist in a vacuum
The article is so nearsighted that it's painful. It looks at California as if it existed by itself. It doesn't. Even being able to increase state taxes will not change the fact that unless the federal government changes laws -- such as removing the benefits given to companies that send manufacturing and jobs overseas -- our tax base, no matter the tax rates, will continue to fall.
Until federal laws that make it better to manufacture and have jobs overseas and keep billions of dollars in profits offshore rather than reinvesting locally, your solution is, at best, a small bandage placed on a broken arm. Rather than fix the broken arm we can jury-rig temporarily by simply allowing the governor to declare a "fiscal emergency" allowing a temporary 50%+1 vote to change the law for 1 year at a time.
Hey Kevin, you should read The Times' article about the city of Vernon's abuse of city officials and their families living in low-rent beautiful city homes.
And you wonder why people are skeptical about paying more taxes and growing the government.
-- Paul Thornton
Photo: Kevin de León speaks in the California state Senate on Aug. 29. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press