Mark Hershey | California: Stop the Pain, Stop the Taxes!

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Taxes hurt. Taxes hurt badly. Even Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to pay taxes. Bernie earned $1.1 million in 2016 and 2017, but when he was asked if he paid extra taxes to support his socialist agenda, he deflected the question and rationalized that other rich people did not pay extra taxes. Typical response from big-government legislators – “Do as I say, not as I do.”

In California, we are taxed, surcharged, assessed and fined from a myriad of sources, many of which we are unaware. Besides the highest income tax in the country at 13.3%, California charges a 1% lumber tax on qualified wood products, a tire fee when purchasing each new tire as well as a disposal fee when you turn in the old tire, an automotive battery fee, an electronic waste recycling fee on purchases of laptops, televisions, and computer monitors, and even a $10.50 mattress recycling fee. 

Los Angeles County sales tax comes in around 9%. My cell phone bill collected seven different state taxes and one L.A. County tax. My property tax bill had the 1% general tax levy but added another $1,400 in annual taxes for community college, schools, sanitation district, sewer, vector control, flood control and many more itemized fees. 

In 2017, California legislators passed Senate Bill 1, which was the infamous gasoline tax that has increased state excise taxes 17.6 cents per gallon in two years, bringing the California excise tax to 47.3 cents per gallon. Adding California sales tax, the underground storage tank fee, and the federal tax, brings the total gasoline tax to 76.7 cents per gallon. Vehicle registration also increased dramatically; all of this revenue was promised (in ballot wording deceptively designed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra) to be used for  state and local roadway improvements. 

However, in stepped Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign Executive Order N-19-19, which directed the state to spend money on projects “to help reverse the trend of increased fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector.” In response, the California Department of Transportation proposed delaying funding for three highway widening projects in San Luis Obispo County and the Central Valley, instead setting aside $61 million in Senate Bill 1 funds “for priority rail projects and other priorities aligned with the executive order.”

There’s that disastrous, failed multi-billion-dollar taxpayer dollars bullet train, folks. 

On Jan. 1, the Assembly Bill 5 law took effect, which reclassified more than one million independent contractors to employees of their associated businesses. Opponents said it would increase labor costs by up to 30%, create higher costs for customers with reduced service, and reduce flexibility for workers. Gov. Newsom added $20 million to the state budget for AB 5 enforcement investigations into labor law violations and for staff training. There are Assembly members actively seeking an additional $20 million from the state to fund a grants program for small community nonprofit arts organizations to assist them in transitioning their contractors to employees. 

The math is simple: Another $40 million added to this AB5 had no forethought whatsoever. It was meant to be a union-pleaser and California workers are to just take the ruin and be quiet. It’s simple math: This detrimental travesty has a $40 million price tag of extras and it hasn’t left the gate. We have yet to see all of the sectors that will be granted waivers. Favoritism will be afoot.

The cost of living in California is already too high and many of our young people are moving out of state where they can buy a home and live a middle-class lifestyle. Overall, those exiting the state are not just the “young.” 

Californians cannot afford the policies of these tax-grabbing elected officials. Their misdeeds are gravely affecting the lives of overly burdened, tax-paying workers and their families. Our children are not the only ones who cannot afford these costs; our fixed-income property owners and the struggling middle class cannot afford these rising costs as the result of carelessness and greed. 

Big government is not efficient and it continues to be proven that it’s extremely expensive. 

How much more governmental recklessness are you will to tolerate?

Mark Hershey is a Santa Clarita resident. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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