The $5.2 billion annual gas tax and car fee increase ma be the most unpopular legislation of the decade. But the fact is this is just one particularly painful symptom of a political “shell game” that keeps driving taxes up year after to year.
I’m going to explain how lies and broken promises drive this system, but let me first offer a solution – a new Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) “Truth in Taxing” Task Force that will expose these bait and switch tactics and prevent even more tax hikes based on fraud and deception in the coming years.
I need your help in this starting with your official authorization to create this Task Force and your donation of $65, $125 or more to enable its success.
Please read on a bit as I use the recent gas tax to demonstrate the systematic deceptions that politicians use to raise taxes for their own ends.
First, politicians create a perceived emergency around something that taxpayers value. Every driver knows that roads are bad and transportation infrastructure needs work. It’s obvious, even bordering on emergency status. The ugly hidden truth, though, is that politicians cause this emergency by neglecting roads and infrastructure for many years. While increasing spending by $36 billion over the last six years, our Legislature did not budget one new dollar for transportation! Ok? Next, politicians promise to solve the perceived emergency with a big tax increase, but then almost immediately break that promise by redirecting the new tax dollars to other political priorities.
Politicians already plan to divert 30% of that $5.2 billion in gas tax revenue to programs having nothing to do with repairing our roads and highways. Some of your road-repair dollars will actually fund job training for felons. Some, park maintenance. And we can’t be surprised if some ends up in the general fund, as happens too often. But … we still need road repairs, so the next victims will be homeowners.
The same politicians who passed the gas tax are pushing a Constitutional Amendment (SCA 6) to drop Proposition 13’s two-thirds vote protection for Parcel Taxes and Homeowner Bond Debt to pay for road repair and transportation infrastructure.
SCA 6 could cost homeowners another $136 billion in addition to the outrageous gas tax paid by all. And finally, when all the new Parcel Taxes and Homeowner Bonds hit the ballot, politicians write ballot “captions” that deceive Californians into voting yes without really knowing they’re raising taxes – taxes paid only by homeowners. Got it?
So now, please authorize and support the HJTA “Truth in Taxing” Task Force to help us end these rip-offs. Our first priority will be to expose the fraud and misuse of tax dollars, educating voters about the systematic deception, shell games and bait-and-switch tactics currently used to raise taxes.
We will fight to block any Constitutional Amendment that would lower the two-thirds vote for homeowner-only taxes of ALL kinds, not just for road repair and transportation. PLUS, we can achieve a “Truth in Taxing” on ballots! The captions on ballot measures usually stress lofty goals – (fix our roads!) minimizing or ignoring that yes votes approve huge tax increases.
HJTA has sponsored Assembly Bill 195 (AB 195) to require that all local ballot measures reveal the dollar amount, rate and duration of the new tax. AB 195 could save homeowners millions of dollars, but sponsoring and passing legislation is complicated and costly. And, as always, our influence depends completely on the backing of BIG NUMBERS of grassroots activists and donation from individuals like you.
But, if we can afford it, we have even more ways to protect you like enforcing tax transparency that politicians still ignore, even though it is required by law! Politicians often enact tax hikes too quickly without time for public consideration or complaint, sometimes in the dead of night.
That’s why voters passed Prop. 54 last November, requiring that all bills be in pint and available for public view for at least 72 hours before any final vote in the Legislature. Is that too much to ask? Evidently so, since the Assembly has rushed nearly 100 bills through without giving the public this legally required minimal time.
Once authorized and funded, the “Truth in Taxing” Task Force will also be able to file lawsuits to overturn tax bills that ignored Prop. 54’s minimal transparency requirement. You’re right! This is a very ambitious agenda! Yet all Task Force actions must be carried out in addition to our defense of Proposition 13, using new funding outside our current budget.
Should HJTA even attempt to eliminate so many fraudulent practices that cost homeowners millions of dollars every year? I think we must. And I’m confident that every dollar we invest in this Task Force now will prevent hundreds of dollars in taxes that would continue to be imposed during these deceptive tactics.
Counting on your authorization and financial support, I have launched the “truth on ballots” effort. On that and all our agendas, success depends wholly on your signature on the “Truth in Taxing” Task Force Authorization and Support form and your special donation of $65 or more to make all these reforms possible!
If you agree with these goals, please sign the following authorization right now and return it to:
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, P.O. Box 14230, Orange, CA 92863-1230. Please make Task Force success possible by also enclosing a special HJTA donation of $65 or more. I ask this, as always, sending thanks in advance.
Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights. For more information, visit www.hjta.org.