As I've said before, California's constitution requires a 2/3 majority in the legislature to increase taxes; Republicans make up less than 1/2 of the legislature, but more than 1/3, and so it's impossible to raise state taxes without Republican approval. Despite our state's current budget deficit (or because of it?) the Republicans have utterly refused to consider raising taxes at all, insisting instead that the shortfall be eliminated by spending cuts.
This is perfectly reasonable, since in the past four years the rate of population growth with inflation was 21%, government revenue increased 28%, and spending increased 36%. Even when population growth and inflation are accounted for, the increased revenue should have been more than enough to allow for a tax cut without touching services -- but no, instead the Democrats in control of the state increased spending by a ridiculous 36%. The budget shortfall is entirely due to this irresponsible spending.
[Deep breath... mumble... stupid Democrats....] Ok, so, the Democrats can't raise taxes because of the Republicans, and can't cut spending because they need the money to buy votes from their constituencies. What to do?! Well, if you can't raise taxes, just raise "fees" instead!
The Democrats in the legislature along with Governor Gray Davis just tripled our car tax! Oops, excuse me, I mean car fee. "The fee on a new Chevrolet Impala purchased for $24,920, for example, will rise from what would have been $162 to $498 in the first year of ownership." Yes, that's per year, every year.
The Republicans are furious over the issue, and argue that the "fee" can't be increased without legislative approval, which would require a 2/3 majority.
"The state is not entitled to that money," said Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), speaking to reporters in the lobby of the attorney general's office, where he filed proposed ballot initiatives to roll back the tax rate to $1 or abolish it altogether. "They are breaking the law by taking it."
If McClintock is able to get hundreds of thousands of signatures needed in the coming months, his measures will be on the ballot in November 2004.
McClintock accused the Davis administration of exploiting a clause in the state Constitution that makes it extremely difficult for opponents of the tax to stop the state from collecting it until the appeals process has been exhausted in a court challenge. That could take years.
"They know it is an illegal act but the Constitution prevents injunctions to prevent collections of the tax, so they know they can get away with it for the next several years," he said, adding that Peace's argument that the tax hike is legal is "absolute horse manure."
So there's another ballot initiative in process to accompany the near-certain recall of the governor who 83% of people disapprove of, mainly due to this sort of financial mismanagement. Hopefully these two populist movements will, together, be able to break the stranglehold the Democrats have had on this fine state for decades.