Casual watchers and partisan political junkies agree that in California the election results have tilted the state government farther to the left. There is change afoot.
One observer/analyst, Michael Gardner, a reporter for U-T San Diego, wrote in a recent story that some of the change will come in the form of new taxes.
Creating new tax vehicles is going to take some serious imagination. What’s left to add a tax or fee that doesn’t already separate earners from their incomes?
I suppose the current lawmakers could come up with something. In 2012 California legislators produced more than 800 new laws that became effective on the first of 2013. It is hard to imagine that anything has been left uncovered or unregulated in California.
As Gardner points out, Democrats are firmly in control of the taxing and fee raising authority. My guess is they can be counted on to find new government funding devices.
In the past, there were enough fiscal conservatives in the legislature to force thoughtful consideration of tax and fee increases and to block what they thought were the most egregious. Absent those conservatives, mostly Republicans, we can only hope for restraint. That may be a false hope.
Toward the end of the year, the California Board of Equalization sends notices to business owners reminding them of the myriad laws and regulations the BOE enforces. The list sent by the BOE to a businessman who operates gas stations follows:
Alcoholic Beverage Tax (sections 32001-32557);
Ballast Water Management Fee (Marine Invasive Species) (section 44000-44008, 55001-55381, Public Resources Code sections 71200-71271);
California Tire Fee (section 55001-55381, Public Resources Code section 42860-42895);
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Fee (sections 43001-43651, Health and Safety Code section 105310);
Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax (sections 30001-30482, Health and Safety Code sections 104555-104558);
Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act of 2003 (Business and Professions Code sections 22970-22991, Government Code section 15618.5, Penal Code section 830.11);
Diesel Fuel Tax (sections 60001-60708);
Electronic Waste Recycling Fee (sections 55001- 55381, Health and Safety Code sections 25214.10- 25214.10.2, Public Resources Code sections 42463- 42485);
Emergency Telephone Users Surcharge (sections 41001-41176);
Energy Resources Surcharge (sections 40001- 40216);
Hazardous Substances Tax (sections 43001-43651, Health and Safety Code sections 25174-25174.11, 25205.1-25205.23);
Integrated Waste Management Fee (sections 45001-45984, Public Resources Code sections 48000-48008);
International Fuel Tax Agreement (sections 9401- 9433);
Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax, including Aircraft Jet Fuel Tax (sections 7301-8526);
Natural Gas Surcharge (sections 55001-55381, Public Utilities Code sections 890-900);
Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Fee (sections 43001-43651, Health and Safety Code sections 105190, 105195);
Oil Spill Response, Prevention, and Administrative Fees (sections 46001-46751, Government Code sections 8670.40, 8670.48);
Private Railroad Car Tax (sections 11201-11702);
Publicly Owned Property (sections 1840-1841);
State-Assessed Property (sections 721-868, 4876- 4880, 5011-5014, 5148);
Tax on Insurers (sections 12001-13170);
Timber Yield Tax (sections 38101-38908);
Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee (sections 50101-50162, Health and Safety Code sections 25299.10-25299.51);
Use Fuel Tax (sections 8601-9355);
Water Rights Fee (sections 55001-55381, Water Code sections 1525-1560);
Not all of the fees roost on the people who frequent this fellow’s gas pumps and convenience shops, but most do.
Other businesses probably get a different list.
Last year, Richard Rider of San Diego Tax Fighters produced his own compilation of laws, regulations and license requirements, all of which cost money. It was so long repeating it here would take two or three week’s worth of columns.
When I first moved to the Denver area, I was told the pay was lower there because residents had access to those fantastic mountains. That, at least, was the excuse. The idea was the place was so attractive people didn’t need high pay to move there. They just needed enough pay to stay.
Much of California, particularly along the coast, is blessed with an attractive climate, especially if you have developed an aversion to freezing temperatures. Some say California’s citizens are willing to pay more in taxes in order to live “the good life” much of California’s weather offers.
There is a tipping point.
About 2,000 more people move out of California each week than move in, taking their incomes and taxpaying responsibilities elsewhere. That shrinking funding source forces the rest of us to pick up the slack.
If there is no restraint, California’s approach to governing and taxing will result in too few income earners to carry the freight.
Hawkins is retired after 35 years as a construction industry association manager. He was a broadcast reporter and news anchor in Denver. As a Navy officer, he saw action in Vietnam in the River Assault Squadrons and is the recipient of a Silver Star and Purple Heart. He can be reached at email@example.com.