Our View: Down the rabbit hole

Cartoon by Robert Botts

California’s supermajority of elected Democrat leaders must have deluded itself into believing it can print money.

That seems to be the only thing that makes sense as legislators plan a national – oops, statewide – health care system (Senate Bill 562, which the Legislative Analyst’s office says would carry about a $400 billion price tag) and jacks up taxes for a revitalized roads system (already siphoning off some of the “dedicated” road funds for other causes).

Meanwhile, its head of state, Gov. Jerry Brown, talks global warming with the president of China.

When did we secede?

And what, exactly, backs up the “California dollar” Democrats apparently plan to print?

That would be your wallet.

If you’re interested in keeping anything in it, we believe some counter-moves are called for.

First, the health care bill. As ridiculous as this proposal is, we worry that the California Legislature may be wacky enough to pass it, relying on funds from – where else? – higher taxes, along with federal funds not likely to materialize.

A study by the California Nurses Association – a strong supporter of Senate Bill 562 – calculates a 2.3 percent statewide sales tax hike, along with a new 2.3 percent gross receipts tax on corporate revenue, should generate the $106 billion needed annually to fund the gap for a statewide health care system.

The difference between the estimated $400 billion overall cost and the $106 billion tax hike revenue makes some assumptions – among them that the federal government will cooperate with federal Medicare and Medicaid dollars.

Like California’s done anything to endear itself to the Trump administration.

“There are many assertions made (in SB 562) that there’s not real clarity on, and some of them are misguided in a lot of ways,” said Bruce Benton, vice president of the California Association of Health Underwriters, during an interview with The Associated Press.

Alice isn’t the only one with a Wonderland, complete with a hookah-smoking Caterpillar. These days Sacramento is looking like another place you could fall down a rabbit hole and smoke something mind-altering.

Gambling California’s financial stability on an untried statewide health-care system is insane. Remember the predictions of success when Obamacare was adopted?

The good news is that two-thirds approval from both the California Assembly and Senate would be required for approval of SB 562. The bad news is that Democrats are truly a supermajority in Sacramento, and zanier things have happened.

Lobbying Santa Clarita Valley’s largely Republican delegation in Sacramento will be pointless on this; they haven’t smoked with the Caterpillar. The rather lengthy list of sponsoring legislators and the governor’s office would be good targets.

Second in need of countermeasures are the gasoline and diesel tax hikes and vehicle registration fee hikes, which begin taking effect in November.

We need to seize every chance we get to overturn these hikes rushed through the Legislature out of recognition for how unpopular they would be.

Much ado was made about guarantees that the new road-funding taxes and fees would deliver some $52 billion annually, all of it set aside for much-needed road improvement and repair.

But Sen. Jim Nielsen, vice chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has a different tale of the not-yet-collected revenue’s fate.

“This budget is filled with broken promises made by Democrats to the citizens when they passed the massive new $52 billion gas and car tax; it takes gas and car tax money that is supposed to go to roads, highways and bridges to pay for recruiting lifeguards, park rangers and state park maintenance and local park operations, to name just a few examples,” he said in a statement issued this week after the budget was approved.

Following the release of the budget proposal earlier this year, both Santa Clarita Valley Assembly members noted how quickly the state hijacks funds earmarked for one purpose and directs them elsewhere.

Funds from Proposition 56, approved by voters in November, were supposed to go toward low-income health services, including Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal. But in the newly approved 2017-18 budget, tobacco tax funds go into the Medi-Cal general fund, as they did before Prop 56 passed.

A drive is afoot to overturn the gas and diesel tax hikes and boosted vehicle registration fees, but pundits give it little chance to pass because it’s backed by no high-rollers.

Assemblyman Travis Allen, a Republican from Huntington Beach, has launched the drive to overturn the taxes and is looking for $5 donations and volunteers to circulate petitions. Visit nocagastax.com for more information.

Citizens who like their wallets to have some green in them can see the writing on the wall; they need to look ahead to the 2018 election and see what leadership is emerging in Sacramento that won’t tax residents right into the tea party seat next to the Mad Hatter.

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