While refusing to take responsibility for over $100 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations, California legislators spent the current legislative session coming up with new ways to extract money from their constituents. According to recent research by the California Taxpayers Association (CalTax), California legislators have introduced approximately $11 billion in tax increases and new or higher fees.
CalTax identified 66 pieces of legislation that have been introduced this legislative session that would increase monetary burdens on Californians. Fortunately for taxpayers, only five tax and fee increases of the 66 proposed have been passed so far. The five increases amount to $355.6 million in additional burdens to taxpayers. The largest of these is SB 78, which “imposes a sales tax on gross receipts of a Medi-Cal managed care plan, as defined” in the statute. This one-time tax is estimated to cost taxpayers $340,000,000.
As a sampling of pending legislation:
- SB 391: “Imposes a new $75 recording fee for every real estate instrument, paper, or notice required or permitted by law to be recorded. The funds would be used for affordable housing, and for administering housing programs.” (Cost: $300,000,000)
- AB 8: “Extends and authorizes increases in several vehicle-related taxes and fees to fund various programs to encourage use of alternative and renewable fuels.” (Cost: $264,000,000)
- SB 700: “Imposes a new 5-cent tax on every single-use carryout bag provided to customers at any retail establishment…” (Cost: $169,900,000)
- AB 187: “Imposes a new 10 percent tax on ammunition…” (Cost: $92,400,000)
- AB 760: “Imposes a new tax of 5 cents per bullet on ammunition sold in this state.” (Cost: $55,000,000)
- SB 782: “Requires owners of sexually oriented businesses to pay a new $10 tax for every customer entering the business. The tax would be administered by the Board of Equalization, and funds would be deposited into a new fund to pay for sexual assault prevention programs. The tax would sunset in 2024…” (Cost: $35,000,000)
The 66 pieces of legislation by CalTax does not include a group of proposed Constitutional Amendments proposed in the Senate and Assembly that would make it easier for local governments pass tax increases and/or bond measures.
Taken together with California’s already high income, sales, corporate, and property taxes, the extensive proposals to increase taxes and fees on Californians indicate that California legislators have yet to get a grip on reality. While legislators continue to ignore over $100 billion of debt, they insist on treating taxpayers like ATM machines while maxing out the credit cards.
Salvador Rodriguez ([email protected]) is a policy intern at Reason Foundation. Used with permission of the Out of Control Policy blog at reason.org.