Laird loses to Blakeslee

John Seiler:

Republican Sam Blakeslee Tuesday beat Democrat John Laird for the open state Senate seat. I hope Blakeslee is more faithful to taxpayers that was the man who previously held the seat until he left it in May to become Lt. Gov., Abel Maldonado.

Back in 2006, four long years ago, I was on a panel discussion with Laird. The guy was obsessed with increasing taxes — even during those boom times. It was that tax-and-waste mentality that dumped the state into the budget and economic mess it’s now suffering.

Here’s the unsigned editorial I wrote in The Orange County Register:

———————————-

Scapegoating Prop. 13 / Officials lament limits on taxing power

Published: 6/28/2006
And speaking of how state budgets just keep getting bigger ….

A few days ago we joined other editorial writers in questioning three government officials and an association president about state and local government finances at a forum presented by the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Our conclusion: Government officials – at least those on this panel – want even more of your money than they’re taking now and are not all that concerned with economies in government.

Henry Gardner, executive director of the Association of Bay Area Governments, criticized “a lack of political will at the state level … a lack of political courage” to raise taxes.

Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, brought up that he joined 46 other Assembly members in putting “up a vote on the Assembly floor to raise the upper income bracket of income tax to fund the schools,” which was “a deal that the governor walked away from.”

He also lamented that it takes a two-thirds vote to pass a budget in California, meaning restructuring the tax system – including tax increases – requires the cooperation of the usually anti-tax Republican minority. If that cooperation were not mandatory, of course, Democrats could raise taxes at will – and crash the state economy.

(Oddly, Mr. Laird almost seemed to understand that point, remembering that when he was mayor of Santa Cruz, he went “through a groveling exercise because the Mercedes dealership was going to leave town, and the sales tax from that one car dealership in a town of 50,000 provided 5 percent of the general fund budget.” Put another way, if businesses aren’t treated right, they leave a city – even beautiful Santa Cruz – county, state or even a country.)

Betty Yee, an acting member of the Board of Equalization, said she was still optimistic “that we could revisit Proposition 13 if there were some comprehensive system of review of our revenue system.” Thus far, fortunately, Prop. 13 has been the “third rail” in California politics – touch it, and your political career is electrocuted. It will be interesting to see if Ms. Yee’s Republican opponent campaigns on this issue against her this November.

We pointed out that the state is raking in record revenue, with $5 billion in unexpected income this year, and that local governments have seen revenue from property taxes – despite Prop. 13 – go up as much as 90 percent in just the past five years. So budget problems hardly stem from a lack of revenue.

Mr. Gardner replied that, “ The short answer is the taxes don’t keep flowing in” when property values stagnate or decline, as now seems to be happening. Yes, but a 90 percent boost in five years should last a long time.

In the end, it was disheartening to us that these officials were too quick to blame Prop. 13 for the state’s lingering financial straits and to look to higher taxes for relief. But it should be clear that the real solution is not higher taxes, but lower taxes accompanied by the privatization of services and cuts in wasteful or unneeded programs. A growing, competitive and constantly innovating private sector, unburdened by high taxes and regulations, is the best guarantee that the state will have the money for the limited essential services it ought to provide.

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Tags assigned to this article:
California SenateJohn LairdSam BlakesleeTaxes

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