Tax-ra-mento can’t help it.
Raising taxes is in their DNA.
Not doing so is akin to Donald Trump getting up at 3 a.m. and not tweeting. It’s just not going to happen.
So, is anyone really surprised that the state sitting on a $22 billion surplus — that’s $550 for every man, woman and child in California whether they are here legally or not — and is getting ready to raise taxes?
They say you get the kind of government you deserve. And since we don’t elected principled “sheriffs” to keep the dysfunctional Tax-ra-mento Robin Hood act from running amok that takes money from working stiffs to fund politically correct ventures such as giving free health care to undocumented 19 to 25 year-olds while slapping taxes on those who are legal residents that don’t have health care to help pay for the free coverage, what did we expect?
It might interest you to note that the largest group that forgoes buying insurance if it is not provided for them is those ages 19 to 25. The folks in Tax-ra-mento know that. They also know those between 19 and 25 who are working full-time and not joining the social injustice protest du jour on college campuses tend not to watch out for their interests when it comes to Tax-ra-mento’s twisted version of Robin Hoods on the prowl.
It’s how Tax-ra-mento works best. They either find a way to universally demonize a subgroup of taxpayers or they cull a weak subgroup from the herd and then pounce on their paychecks like a pack of half-starved hyenas ripping their prey to financial shreds to satisfy their incessant hunger for tax dollars.
The tax to cover healthcare premiums for 19 to 25-year olds in this country illegally is unconscionable given those most likely who will have to pay it are those in this country legally between the ages of 19 and 25 that don’t have insurance. If you can rationalize that you can rationalize anything.
The other tax that is on its way is actually — to a degree — a replacement tax. But instead of talking about making it revenue neutral to cover ongoing shortfalls in tax receipts as if any Tax-ra-mento disciple would be willing to settle for working with the same amount of money the goal is to make it more muscular. Of course, I’m naively assuming they will drop the tax already in place once it is replaced with a more robust one. The odds of Tax-are-mento getting rid of a tax is about as likely as the Sacramento Kings pulling off a deal that would land them coach Steve Kerr and Steph Curry for the 2019-2020 season.
The tax we are talking about is a new monthly tax on phone bills to upgrade the statewide 911 system. You are already paying a 911 tax but it is on voice calls. As more and more people switched from talking to texting, the revenue has dropped.
If you’ll recall — or should that be re-text — just last year the California Public Utilities Commission ran for cover from the fallout to add a 911 tax to text.
There is little doubt the current 911 system in California rooted in 1970s technology needs updating. The goal is to allow 911 operators to receive text, video and photos as well.
The problem is how they are funding it.
Tax-ra-mento wants to raise $200 million a year to upgrade the system. The budget approved Thursday authorizes the Office of Emergency Services to impose a fee up to 80 cents a month per phone to pay for 911. Tax-ra-mento officials pooh-pooh that figure saying it will only be around 34 cents. Since it’s not polite to call people liars, remember the fibbers in Tax-ra-mento told you high speed rail would be running between San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2028 and it would only cost taxpayers $9.8 billion as private sector investors would be tripping over each other to cover the rest of the $40 billion tab.
On a $50 wireless bill you are now being charged $2.25 for regulatory and government fees. Included is 6 cents for the California 911 fee. In other words, they authorized jacking up the tax you are now paying by 13 times with no accompanying language to pull the plug on the current tax once the new tax is implemented.
And instead of answering to the public as imposing such a tax requiring CPUC approval after conducting public hearings they are giving a bureaucracy in the form of the OES the power to impose taxes to their heart’s content until they max out at 80 cents per month per phone.
Your phone bill with its myriad of charges gives Tax-ra-mento politicians the perfect cover as who is going to question an 80-cent bump when most households spend between $100 and $200 a month with wireless carriers.
The reason why Tax-ra-mento abandoned the ship like rats when Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed for a tax on every Californian’s monthly water bill was the fact every Californian would likely notice the tax and make politicians pay at the ballot box.
Tapping into the $22 billion surplus was a non-starter because Tax-ra-mento disciples morph into fiscal zealots whenever you threaten their monetary equivalent of political crack.
Witness the utterance of State Sen. Mike McGuire who says the obvious: “There is no other state in this union that funds a 911 upgrade with one-time funds” in reference to suggestions Tax-ra-mento could have used just under 1 percent of the $22 billion surplus to cover the 911 tab.
You’ll note the Healdsburg Democrat was careful not to say one-time money should never be used for “any” reoccurring expenses. If McGuire had he would be under attack for using the one-time money in the budget surplus to fund the reoccurring $100 million annual expense to underwrite free healthcare for 19 to 25-year olds that aren’t in this country legally.
Give the devil his due. Tax-ra-mento makes Congress look like rank amateurs when it comes to creative ways to shakedown taxpayers.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.