Five CA GOP state senators back $2 billion tax increase

TaxiforniaJune 10, 2013

By John Hrabe

With a Democratic supermajority, Republican votes no longer are needed to increase taxes in the California Senate. Yet in a strange development, five GOP senators backed a tax increase anyway.

SB 11 is a $2.3 billion tax “extension” co-authored by a Democratic state senator, Fran Pavley of Calabasas; and by a Republican state senator, Anthony Cannella of Ceres. It passed the full Senate, 32-5, with two not voting and one vacancy.

Of the votes, 27 were from Democrats, or 67.5 percent, which was above the two-thirds supermajority threshold in the 40-seat Senate to raise taxes.

Yet in addition to Cannella, Republicans voting for it were Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Brea and Sens. Bill Emmerson of Redlands, Jean Fuller of Bakersfield and Mimi Walters of Irvine. Although Cannella did not, the latter four all signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a solemn promise never to raise taxes.

Total: Out of the Senate Republican Caucus’ small membership of 11, five voted for SB 11.

The Senate Republican Caucus’ own analysis identified the bill as “the continuation of billions of dollars of vehicle registration fees and tire taxes for eight years.” Yet not a single Senator, Republican or Democrat, spoke against the bill.

None of the Republican senators who signed the anti-tax pledge responded to CalWatchdog.com’s request for comment on their tax flip-flop. A spokesman for Huff referred comment to a YouTube video (provided below), in which Huff referenced his vote.

“What we did this week was we extended fees for smog abatement, registrations, tire purchases,” Huff said in a 40-second explanation of his tax extension vote. “I wouldn’t normaly do that. But the bill was tied to easing regulations, burdens imposed on gas stations, truckers, ag equipment. And so it was one of those situations where you were taking a bad situation and making it better. ”

GOP analysis: Tax extension is “hefty price to pay” 

Huff’s argument that industry incentives are worth a multi-billion-dollar tax increase is disputed by his own caucus.  An internal Senate Republican Caucus bill analysis obtained by CalWatchdog.com found:

“The continuation of billions of dollars of vehicle registration fees and tire taxes for eight years is a hefty price to pay. This bill would result in fee extensions of $8 in smog abatement, $18 for vehicle registrations, $10 on boat registrations, and $0.75 per tire on consumers annually until the year 2024.

The analysis included an all-caps warning that the bill imposed “VERY MAJOR STATE COSTS AND REVENUE INCREASES.” And it quoted this analysis from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association:

“SB 11 has been keyed as a two-thirds vote tax increase. The cumulative impact of these exactions will result in a $2.3 billion tax extension.”

GOP Caucus: Not a tax increase

Bill Bird, a spokesman for Huff, denied the bill is a tax increase. “The pledge states the legislator will not vote to RAISE taxes. He didn’t,” Bird said of Huff’s vote.

This nuanced interpretation of what constitutes a tax increase is contradicted by none other than Huff himself. In 2011, when Senate Democrats proposed legislation to grant local governments the authority to raise taxes, Huff gave a fiery speech against what he dubbed the “I Love More Taxes Bill of 2011.”

“Our staff believe it’s in violation of Prop. 26, which reads, ‘Any change in state statute which results in any taxpayer paying a higher tax must be imposed by an act passed by not less than two thirds of all members elected to each of the two houses of the legislature,’” Huff said. “What are we doing? We’re creating something on a majority vote that will facilitate raising taxes.”

Huff even took time to acknowledge the nuance of the “I Love More Taxes Bill of 2011.”

“This in itself doesn’t raise taxes,” Huff said. “Local government already has the ability to raise taxes, but it gives them more taxes they can raise on a majority vote.”

Just a month ago, Huff was warning that high tax rates hurt the economy. “Higher tax rates and continuing high unemployment mean less money in people’s pockets and less money to propel the economy,” he said in a press release in response to the Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Revision budget proposal for fiscal year 2013-14, which begins on July 1. “The Legislature should spend less time on a growing list of additional tax proposals.”

Taxpayer groups: A tax extension is a tax increase

Patrick Gleason, the director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, which organizes the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” said his group considers a tax extension a violation of the pledge that Huff, Emmerson, Fuller and Walters signed.

“Legislation that would extend a tax scheduled to sunset is a tax increase,” Gleason said in an email.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association adds that Republican legislators could face a backlash for breaking their promise to their constituents.

“We’re not sure legislators fully grasp how this vote will be perceived by all the drivers — most of whom are voters — in their districts,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “The backlash will be severe.”

Huff is no stranger to taxpayers’ backlash for halfhearted promises. In 2009, some taxpayers launched a failed recall for what they considered Huff’s failure of leadership to protect taxpayers from the largest tax increase in California history. That was the $13 billion signed into law that year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the help of two Republican state senators and two Assembly members. In his rebuttal to the 2009 recall attempt, Huff clarified that he never voted for the tax extension, and therefore had not violated his tax pledge.

Huff also opposed Proposition 1A, a May 2009 initiative pushed by Schwazenegger that would have extended the tax increases. It was defeated heartily by voters, 65-35.

“While these reforms became linked to a two-year extension of taxes and packaged as Proposition 1A, Huff didn’t vote for the budget, the tax increase or the extension,” Huff’s recall rebuttal stated. “Bob Huff has not violated his pledge to not raise taxes!”

Huff vs. Huff: “Doesn’t Fix the Real Problem”

SB 11, Huff argues, is a compromise to offer temporary relief to struggling industries.

“I wouldn’t normally do that, but the bill was tied to easing regulations of burdens imposed on gas stations, truckers, ag equipment,” Huff said in his May 31 Capitol Comment. “It was one of those things where you’re taking a bad situation and making it better.”

In April 2011, for the same reason Huff opposed a tax extension proposed by Democrats during budget negotiations. He said, “I have often said an extension of the taxes doesn’t fix the real problem.”

21 comments

Write a comment
  1. The Ted Enormity
    The Ted Enormity 10 June, 2013, 11:26

    We must purge these comrades from the party.

    Reply this comment
  2. Roger
    Roger 10 June, 2013, 14:20

    Vote every incumbent out.

    Reply this comment
  3. BobA
    BobA 10 June, 2013, 17:18

    Roger:

    No no no no no. You don’t get it. California’s problems stems from the fact that taxes are to low, politicians don’t spend enough, welfare isn’t generous enough, not enough illegal immigrants in the state and rich people stole their wealth from the poor.

    That’s how and what the politicians in this state thinks and you and I get the honor and privilege of paying for it. After all, it’s not their money; it’s “other people’s money” or OPM (pronounced opium).

    Think of it as political crack cocaine that all politicians are addicted to.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 10 June, 2013, 17:28

    very witty, well, for you, bo-bo, but please use the spell check.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 10 June, 2013, 18:22

    And to think that when the lights go out in SoCal over the next few years, it will be in highly conservative territory in and around San Diego.

    No big. It never rains in SoCal and now it doesn’t shine either.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 10 June, 2013, 21:22

    Bill– do you mean the power lost from SONGS closure?

    Reply this comment
  7. Robert
    Robert 11 June, 2013, 02:24

    Smog abatement? Balony! I purchased a new diesel pick up truck seven years ago, and was told you do not to get it “smogged” every other year! Well, this year I got a certificate to get it “smogged!” Huh? They want $75 to sign the paper. I said what do you do to smog a diesle? He said, “There is no equipment to do this, so we just start the engine and look to see if there is excessive smoke coming out of the tail pipe!” Whose idea was this? If California keeps reaching deeper in my pockets, who knows what they will find next time!

    Reply this comment
  8. stolson
    stolson 11 June, 2013, 08:37

    tax and spend yada yada yada. No brains left in this state’s legislature.

    Reply this comment
  9. BikeCommuter
    BikeCommuter 11 June, 2013, 09:23

    Republicans have no consistent political philosophy, which is why that party is in trouble. They have shown they are no better than progressive socialists by voting for the samething: a big government that can only exist by taking away your money.

    Reply this comment
  10. Jimmy K
    Jimmy K 11 June, 2013, 09:36

    Boring….

    Reply this comment
  11. John Steele
    John Steele 11 June, 2013, 10:34

    Wow, what a total sell out. Whats the point of voting in the Stalinist era of Taxifornia when the opposition just goes along with thugs to continue to rob your income legally. They moan about it, but still continue to vote for the bums taking their money. Vote with your feet..

    Reply this comment
  12. BobA
    BobA 11 June, 2013, 16:48

    BikeCommuter:

    That’s way I left the republican party in 2002 and became an independent. Both parties now stand for and want a bigger government and the momentum to than end is increasing. A bigger government gives them more power (and money) to micromanage every aspect of our lives. One has only to look around to see the evidence of this fact in abundance.

    What people fail to understand is that a government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have with impunity ostensibly to “protect” you.

    The republicans want a seat at the big government table so badly that they are willing to throw their principles and republican voters under the bus to secure that seat. It is a Faustian bargain that they will come to regret.

    Reply this comment
  13. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 11 June, 2013, 19:58

    Good Job Bo-bo! You quit the repub’s!!!!! Nice going! Phew! Finally!!!

    Reply this comment
  14. Queeg
    Queeg 11 June, 2013, 23:02

    Republicans gave us Dole and McCain and Romney and all the rich California candidates…….cocktail party grazers…..all losers…..

    Reply this comment
  15. Michael
    Michael 11 June, 2013, 23:43

    Just like Ronald Reagan

    Reply this comment
  16. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 12 June, 2013, 16:27

    Republicans selling out you cubicle workers with amensty and continued gateway borders…..what saps….you worry about mealy corruption and taxes while your career is over…..you will be dipping corn dogs in the mall and loving it!

    Reply this comment
  17. The Ted Enormity
    The Ted Enormity 12 June, 2013, 19:31

    Mr. u, you are sadly correct. But these cubicle workers are Doomers, they don’t listen so well.

    Reply this comment
  18. Charlie Peters
    Charlie Peters 30 June, 2013, 04:04

    Is BP, Shell, Sunoco, Valero, GMO fuel in your water tap, will GMO fuel affect the beef?

    Does GMO fuel vapors increase ozone in your air?

    Will Mary Nichols, John Wallauch, Kamala Harris, and Governor Brown support the UN, Bill Clinton, Gary Condit, Al Gore, Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and the World Bank (GMO fuel) ethanol waiver?

    Does California Republicans have a Bill Analysis for AB 8 & SB 11 Pavley?

    California AB 8 Perea and SB 11 Pavley are urgency bills to tax the motorist $millions to build Hydrogen stations to fill car tanks to 10,000 psi of Hydrogen, absolute insanity–VOTE NO.

    Reply this comment
  19. Charlie Peters
    Charlie Peters 9 August, 2013, 21:27

    BP and Shell GMO fuel is rated as causing cancer but Senator Huff shows no interest in woman health issues.

    A ethanol cancer search of the net is interesting

    Reply this comment
  20. Charlie Peters
    Charlie Peters 25 May, 2015, 22:00

    Free fuel cell hydrogen, free electric car charge & free PG&E-Shell energy, Oh my!

    * Do you want $2 Gasoline at the pump?

    * Do you want clean air and water?

    Ethanol waiver and elimination of E-85 flex fuel credit can cut our ozone & CO2 transportation pollution over 50%

    Let’s improve performance of CA Climate change law AB 32 (Pavley) in 2015 for future generations

    Is it time for an Attorney General, EPA conversation?

    Reply this comment
  21. Charlie Peters
    Charlie Peters 25 May, 2015, 22:06

    Climate law

    * Do you want $2 Gasoline at the pump?

    * Do you want clean air and water?

    Ethanol waiver and elimination of E-85 flex fuel credit can cut our ozone & CO2 transportation pollution over 50%

    Let’s improve performance of CA Climate change law AB 32 (Pavley) in 2015 for future generations

    Is it time for an Attorney General, EPA conversation?

    Reply this comment

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