California State Senator Tony Strickland (R- 19th Senate Dist) finally came back from the holidays with an article in the local Ventura County Star newspaper. Like all state GOP legislators, he is a signatory to the State Taxpayer Protection Pledge;
I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the State of _________ and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.
California Democrats are completely losing their minds over this pledge, not able to understand why their proposed “Budget Cuts” aren’t enough for GOP legislators like Strickland and Chuck Devore (R CA-70) to finally cave and allow them to push the already confiscatory taxes in California to new business-killing heights.
The usual Democrat mantra, echoed by Governor Arnold (“R”), is that the GOP “left the table” and refused to negotiate. Offered no alternatives, supposedly, to the same ball of dung the Democrats have been rolling around Sacramento since this FY budget was first pushed off to be dealt with later.
I offer for you here, in its entirety, a refutation of that same mantra;
For countless families that I represent, these tough economic times are devastating. The folks who stop me at the grocery store, talk to me at the local coffee shop and call my office tell me how they are forced to make ends meet by doing more with less, all while grappling with constant worries of losing their jobs and homes.
The day before Christmas, a man from Ventura County called my office and recounted how he had recently seen the company he works for lay off experienced workers because of the bad economy.
This is not a time for partisanship or the politics-as-usual approach. Instead, it is time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve the situation. Too many legislators seem to be out of touch with the plight of working families; but, as a family man myself, I know I was elected to protect these families and the precious dollars they send to Sacramento.
California is facing a historic deficit — some say the budget hole is approaching $41 billion. Despite those unfathomable numbers, hard-working families didn’t get us into this mess, and the Legislature shouldn’t raid the pockets of cash-strapped Californians to get out of it. When faced with hard economic times, families try their best to stretch their household budgets. They cut back on entertainment dollars, they use coupons and they shop for the cheapest gas. Just as you and I shop for the lowest prices, legislators, too, need to budget more wisely.
This is why I am co-authoring legislation to bring more accountability to state spending by requiring the state auditor to conduct performance audits on government programs.
I also firmly believe that increasing taxes will further harm our fragile economy and eliminate jobs rather than create them. That is why it is particularly frustrating that a majority of legislators blatantly ignored the law and the will of the people in a direct assault on Proposition 13 by approving a complicated scheme that amounts to $10 billion in tax hikes.
The proposal, which I strongly oppose, hits Californians’ wallets in virtually every facet of our daily lives — from raising the sales tax by three-quarters of a cent, increasing car taxes, raising the gas tax by 13 cents per gallon and even charging a “tax on taxes” when you file a tax return. These increases will cost the average family $1,000 more in taxes. Constituents who call my office point out they are taxed enough.
Fortunately, there’s another way to solve this problem without punishing hard-working families. I joined many of my colleagues in a balanced approach that includes new revenues and savings and solves a larger part of the deficit than any other plan on the table.
We built upon cost-saving ideas first proposed by Democrats, Republicans, the governor and even the nonpartisan legislative analyst. We also looked at places where tax dollars are sitting idly in bank accounts and came up with a plan to have voters choose to redirect those funds for other important priorities.
But that’s only part of the proposal. We must get our budget back on track by getting more Californians back to work.
My experience as a business owner taught me the direct relationship between a strong economy and a healthy state budget. Some of the ideas to help our economy rebound include rewarding businesses that hire out-of-work Californians; allowing family-friendly, flexible scheduling; and speeding up infrastructure projects — such as schools and roads — with public-private partnerships.
The final piece of the puzzle is ensuring California never again faces a budget problem of this size. We need to ensure government spending grows no faster than the rate of population and inflation.
In addition, we need to make sure that when state revenues are up, we tuck away some of that money for a rainy day. California residents run their own budgets, therefore, they should expect no less from Sacramento.
As I travel though my district, folks tell me that they are tired of partisan bickering. They want, and rightfully demand, real solutions. I wholeheartedly agree.
— State Sen. Tony Strickland represents the 19th Senate District, which includes the Ventura County cities of Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Ojai, Moorpark, Camarillo and Ventura.
I second that demand, Mr. Strickland.