Taxes! Enough Already!

LA WATCHDOG--The City, the County, and the State are hauling in record revenues totaling almost $250 billion, including over $40 billion from the four million residents of the City of Los Angeles. But it is never enough as the State has placed on the ballot measures to authorize $14 billion in bonds while the County is asking us to approve the $300 million Rain Tax to fund stormwater projects (measure W). 

 

No wonder California is one of the highest taxed states in country, right up there with the economic basket cases of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. 

The City has been hard at work raising our taxes since 2016.  These include the higher taxes on our DWP electricity bills that will reach $150 million at the end of the current rate action.  The City passed a $100 million linkage fee to fund affordable housing.  

Voters also approved the issuance of $1.2 billion in bonds to finance permanent supportive and affordable housing (Measure HHH).  The average annual cost of HHH is estimated to be $75 million a year over a 30-year period.  

The three City taxes total $325 million a year. 

Over the last two years, County voters have approved a $100 million parcel tax to benefit parks (Measure A) and a $350 million, quarter of cent increase in our sales tax to provide services to the homeless (Measure H).  We have also approved a $750 million, half cent increase in our sales tax to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Measure M), increasing Metro’s tax revenue to $3 billion.  

The three County taxes total $1.2 billion a year.  The $300 million Rain Tax will increase the total to over $1.5 billion a year. 

The State has gone crazy, raising $13.6 billion a year in taxes over the last two years.  This includes $7 billion under Prop 55 (Soak the Rich income tax surcharge), $1.4 billion under Prop 56 (Cigarette Tax), and the $5.2 billion Gas Tax that is the subject of Prop 6, Repeal the [regressive] Gas Tax.  

Voters have also approved $20.5 billion in bonds, including a $9 billion education bond in 2016 (Prop 51), $4 billion for parks and water (Prop 68 in June), and $7.5 billion for water projects in 2014 (Prop 1).  The carrying costs of these bonds will average $1.2 billion a year over the next thirty years.    

We are being asked to approve Prop 1, a $4 billion bond for veteran and affordable housing; prop 3, a $8.8 billion bond to fund water projects; and Prop 4, a $1.5 billion bond to finance children’s hospitals.  

Overall, the State has managed to extract almost $15 billion from the residents of California.  And when you consider the carrying costs of $850 million on the proposed $14 billion of bonds, the total approaches $16 billion.  

Despite record revenues, our elected officials at the City, County, and State have refused to address their Structural Deficits, where the growth in expenditures exceeds the increase in revenues, resulting in rivers of red ink.  They have refused to reform their unsustainable pension plans and other retirement plans.  They have not developed plans to repair and maintain our infrastructure.  They refuse to rationalize their bloated, poorly managed, inefficient work forces.  

Rather than endorsing reform and change, our elected elite take the easy road, throwing money at the problem, putting their spinmeisters into high gear telling us why we need to fork over more of our hard earn cash.  

Rather than buying into the high priced and misleading advertising campaigns paid for by their cronies, special interests, and the campaign funding public unions, we need to send a message to the City, the County, and the State that we are mad as hell and that we are not going to take this anymore. 

Vote NO on the County’s $300 million Rain Tax.  Vote NO on the three bond measures, Propositions 1, 3, and 4.  And vote YES on Proposition 6 to repeal the regressive gas tax.  

Go Dodgers.

 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw