Thanks to many of you for responding so positively to my notion that California’s cash crisis is the result of lobby induced inaction within our state government.
Specifically, I spoke about how the big internet lobbyists, like Amazon, are benefiting hugely from the current sales tax inequity (online out of state purchases are sales tax free), while our state infrastructure, our public services, and our educational system are gutted.
As a community of people in love with music and the arts -and concerned about the quality of life both for ourselves and for our children – we are becoming increasingly distressed, to the point where even a blog about the local music scene like Face the Music is compelled to take on the real issues.
I was telling a reader, Dan, who is concerned about job erosion among other things, that I happened to hear Tom Bates, the mayor of Berkeley, speak recently — the Mayor was making the point that we’d be out of our cash flow deficit in California if we did only two things:
1. If we collected tax on the oil companies removal/pumping operations. We’re the only state in the COUNTRY that doesn’t tax the oil industry. Why the heck is that?
And as a surfer and lover of our coast, it pisses me off that the destruction of the beauty of our coasts would only bring in $140 Million a year, whereas taxing the oil industry (like every other state in the union does) for already existing operations would bring in ten times that! Are we idiots?
2. If we removed the tax advantage that Prop 13 provides for COMMERCIAL property. This is the topic that big corporations laugh at us about in private – whenever the Prop 13 issue comes up, they pump up the promo machinery and wave poor old folks being kicked out of their homes at us – and we buckle under the weight of their profits.
And yes, lest you too become hysterical, it is possible to change the corporate business Prop 13 advantage to current market values without effecting elderly homeowners. Even privately owned commercial properties could be exempted.
These two things, PLUS the flow of income that would result from an equitable sales tax, and California would have a SURPLUS so large that even a highly enriched educational system would be affordable – our university system could again lead the world, and our elementary educational system would move from next to last place in the nation, back up to near the top.
Let me point out that these three things can be accomplished without raising your personal taxes even one cent. Two of these three, the oil tax and the Prop 13 commercial revaluation, could be done this month.
Are we going to do any of this? Or are we going to let California continue to descend into the trash heap?
Where does the buck stop?