Suzette Martinez Valladares | Too Much Month at the End of the Money

Suzette Martinez Valladares, Right Here, Right Now

Growing up in the 1980s, my parents both worked hard to provide for their kids. My mom always worked part-time, and my dad was an auto mechanic. 

We were mostly middle class, sometimes struggling financially, but they were able to get by in Southern California. I remember some nights my mom would make arroz con leche for dinner. 

It was a favorite for us kids, but it was a cheap meal that would fill bellies. Making ends meet wasn’t easy for them, but our family could get by.   

Today, many California families with two working parents can’t get by. They do all they can to cut costs but simply can’t make ends meets. We all realize the problem, but let’s talk about the cause and solutions. 

Government is good at pointing fingers, but not very good on solutions. They cast blame on business, or whole industries, workers and even families, but government is typically unwilling to admit that their poorly planned policies are at the root of our high cost of living.   

We are living in Marty Stuart’s country song “There’s too much month at the end of the money.” 

Every single bill in a family’s budget is exponentially higher than the previous month, yet alone the previous year. 

Gas prices traditionally go down during winter but the cost this year has held steady at about $4.75 per gallon. That’s up $1.41 since the pre-pandemic years. 

Natural gas, required to heat our homes, has seen prices go through the roof.  My January gas bill was nearly $800. Add that to December’s bill and the total for those two months was what I paid for natural gas in all of 2021  

How do we fix it? Solutions come from the people.   

We need to demand suspension of the diesel tax (which impacts the price we all pay for consumer goods), delay the transition from winter-blend fuel to summer-blend fuel and delay the annual gas tax increase that is scheduled to take effect on July 1. 

If the Legislature does not act on these items in the next few months, local commuters could be paying $7 a gallon this summer, again. 

Furthermore, our legislators should protect families and reject the governor’s Gas Profit Windfall Tax.   

Homeowners have had the costs of their insurance policies increase, some near 33%, and car insurance is going up, too. We can take the easy step of joining the rest of the United States and allow for California drivers to opt-in to Telematics with their insurance carriers to reduce their monthly car insurance premiums. 

Telematics is a not-so-new but evolving technology that tracks and reports your driving history to your insurance carrier, ultimately rewarding safe driving with lower rates. It’s optional, but for those who choose it, there’s a great opportunity to lower your costs.   

Finally, California should cut taxes for working-class families, cut the gas tax, and provide child care tax credits. Parents today are paying more for two years of child care than many people my age paid for their college education. 

It’s not affordable and a financial burden for young families. We can and should expand the child care tax credit and provide additional tax incentives to business that provide child care benefits for their employees. 

If California wants a workforce three decades from now, we have to incentivize young families to move to and stay in California.  

In a previous column, I wrote that nearly 700,000 people have left our state over the last few years. That number is meaningful to many of us. 

Now instead imagine a California where homeowners can reduce their property taxes by half a percent, cut electricity bills by 40%, cut car insurance $1,000 year, cut grocery bills by half and not have to worry about heating bills doubling or tripling. 

It’s possible if we heed the words of former President Ronald Reagan from his 1981 Inaugural Address, “In the present crisis, government isn’t the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”   

Suzette Martinez Valladares is Santa Clarita’s former assemblywoman, wife, girl mom, avid DIY’er and a monthly contributor to The Signal’s “Right, Here Right Now,” which appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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