Ah, the car tax. The one that got us all into this mess in the first place. In the late 1990s, Gov. Pete Wilson led an effort to reduce the car tax from the 2% level it had held since it replaced a local property tax on cars in the 1930s. It was supposed to return to 2% in the event of fiscal emergency. Gov. Gray Davis faced a fiscal emergency and raised the car tax back to 2%. Californians were outraged and listened to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran a recall campaign based primarily on his promise to drive down the car tax. He was true to his word — he knocked it back down to 0.65% and blew a hole in the budget that was never filled, that threatened schools, defunded cities and counties, contributed to the need for prison realignment and sped up California's tailspin.
Now that voters have filled the hole with Proposition 30 and Democrats have won a supermajority, state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) has taken the opportunity to propose a ballot measure to raise the car tax again. Was Lieu merely the first Democrat out of the gate, and is his tax proposal just the first of many?
Restoring the car tax makes a lot of sense, or at least it did before we passed Proposition 30 in large part because lawmakers couldn't get the car tax done. Now we're going to have both? And instead of paying for local government, now the car tax would pay for road construction? Without any discussion of priorities?
Shouldn't we be restoring funding that used to go to local government? Shouldn't we restore cuts made to the courts, to schools, to child and senior safety net programs? Shouldn't we remember that Californians rejected a car tax increase (Proposition 21) to pay for parks just two years ago, or that after it was rejected, millions of dollars in unspent funds were "found" in the California Department of Parks and Recreation? Shouldn't we forget about any new taxes for a year or two and see how responsibly Democrats use the revenue, and the power, they were just given?
Democrats, please. Slow down. Exercise some restraint. Remember, you didn't earn your supermajority. You free-fell into it, without the years of planning and training that Baumgartner gave his record-breaking feat. You're no Felix Baumgartner. You're more like Icarus, happy, heedless, full of yourselves. Please don't crash, lest you take California down with you.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Democrats, stop before you tax again!
No! Let 'em tax! They're government addicts! It's all they know to do!