A losing proposition

Cameron Smyth Commentary, Right Here Right Now

Before the passage of the largest tax increase in the state’s history last February, Californians already shouldered some of the highest tax burdens in the nation.

Now, in the wake of increased sales, car, and income taxes, we are being asked to extend those taxes for an additional two years.

Several weeks ago, I released a statement announcing my opposition to Proposition 1A, the controversial measure on the upcoming May 19 ballot, and I am urging everyone to vote “no” as well.

Throughout my six years on the Santa Clarita City Council and the last two and one-half in the Assembly, I have opposed all efforts to raise our taxes. Despite the inclusion of a much-needed spending cap, Prop 1A comes at too high a price.

Recent polls – along with the hundreds of calls, e-mails and faxes received by my office – show clearly that Californians are unwilling to tax themselves for an additional two years. And who can blame them?

With unemployment at a record high, a depressed housing market and an altogether sluggish economy, it doesn’t make sense to impose more taxes on Californians. Raising taxes during a recession will not stimulate the economy, it will not create jobs, and it will not address the systematic spending problem that plagues many politicians in Sacramento.

Our current fiscal situation requires real solutions, not harmful propositions masquerading as true reforms.

It’s unfortunate that political posturing resulted in these extended tax increases appearing in the same measure as a spending cap.

Voters are now faced with a false choice. Those like me, who support fiscal responsibility and believe that the state should have to live within its means, are asked to also tax themselves for an additional period of time.

Likewise, voters who favor additional revenues and increased spending must vote for a spending cap that would potentially curtail the expenditures they support.

I would prefer to see the two components of Prop 1A put on the ballot separately. Californians should be allowed to vote on the merits of a spending cap, independent of their vote on tax extensions, and vice versa.

This is one of the main reasons that neither major political party in California has endorsed Prop 1A. The good doesn’t outweigh the bad for either side.

This is particularly true for fiscal conservatives, who would get a spending cap that may or may not work.

While it certainly represents a step in the right direction, there are too many unknowns when it comes to the application of the spending formula in Prop 1A.

It certainly isn’t worth extending tax increases in the middle of a devastating economic downturn, when the spending cap isn’t guaranteed to work.

That’s why I will be voting “no” on Prop 1A.

By defeating Prop 1A on May 19, Californians of all political beliefs will send a loud and clear message to my colleagues in the Capitol: Start spending responsibly; you can no longer count on the people of California to serve as your ATM.