Friday, August 31, 2012

California Democrats shakedown businesses to pass tax hikes

Shakedown politics may be nothing new in Chicago, however, for California businesses strong-armed tactics are being employed to push unrestrained legislative spending. For example, large businesses are told to pay up in support of Proposition 30 or face the wrath of harmful legislation by lawmakers loyal to the unions. “The governor and Democratic legislators are extorting large companies,” said George Runner, of the State Board of Equalization. “They are saying if you don’t support our tax increase on the average citizens, we will come after you.” Proposition 30 is the brainchild of California’s powerful unions and hopes voters will shore up bloated public school budgets. Their “do it for the kids” motto speaks volumes, but the “kids” in California rank second to last in the country for math and science. Opponents say the new taxpayer cash infusion will do nothing to improve test scores and promises more of the same mediocre results. Nevertheless that doesn’t stop lawmakers from currying favor with businesses that have nothing to do with education. According to Jon Coupal, of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: “The reason that so many large businesses are supporting higher taxes today, while so many opposed tax relief 34 years ago, is precisely the same. Howard Jarvis would say that the principle inventory of these big businesses was cowardice, but he understood what was at stake for many of these firms. He explained it this way: ‘Actually, a number of people in a position to know told me that the Bank of America and other big corporations that came out against 13 wanted to support it. But Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy let them know that if they didn’t oppose 13, the Legislature would find a way to punish them.’” Prop 13 passed anyway. Being touted as the “$100,000 or more club” companies like, Aera Energy ($125,000), Occidental Petroleum ($500,000), America Beverage Corp. ($250,000), Disney ($100,000), Warner Bros. ($100,000), Viacom ($100,000), CBS ($100,000), NBC ($100,000), Sony ($100,000), Dignity Health ($150,000), Blue Shield of California ($150,000), Anthem Blue Cross ($100,000), State Farm, California Cable & Telecommunications Assn. ($100,000), Pepsi Cola ($148,675), and Coca Cola ($186,110), are reputedly ponying up big bucks to promote a November taxpayer sales tax increase as part of doing business in the “new” California. A number of these companies declined comment regarding their support of Proposition 30. The top contributors to Proposition 30 are: CA Teachers Assn. Issues PAC $1,531,690 American Federation of Teachers $1,200,000 Service Employees Int’l Union $1,053,218 Democratic State Central Committee $1,050,489 CA State Council of Service Employees $1,008,630 CA Nurses Association $1,000,000 Pace of California School Employees $1,000,000 CA Federation of Teachers $ 800,000 United Domestic Workers of America $ 800,000 CA Hospital Committee $ 500,000 United Brotherhood of Carpenters/Joiners $ 500,000 Proposition 30 supporters boast a wide range of contributors including the likes of Peninsula Interfaith Action that donated $184.80, Personal Insurance Federation of California that donated $695.65 and Good Jobs Los Angeles that donated $1,298.03. (View the current list of donors here) Coupal says some things never change. “Ironically, all the faces in Sacramento have changed but one. Jerry Brown was governor (in 1978) and is governor now. Rumor has it he (Gov. Brown) has been working the phones hard with a heavy-handed message. And any business that is subject to state regulation and/or is under threat of a potential tax increase is likely to listen very carefully to even a polite call from the governor.” The California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris did not respond to a request for comment on this story, but a spokesperson said they never divulge information regarding any investigations. Coupal goes on to say, “I have been told personally by officers and lobbyists from many of the organizations and interests who have contributed to Brown’s tax hike proposal that they have been threatened with harmful legislation if they didn’t financially support the massive tax hike… With one party rule in California, the adage ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely.’” A statement that California residents will unfortunately have to live with since they gave Democrats a super majority in the 2010 midterm elections that ultimately resulted in the creation of Proposition 30. During that same election, voters overwhelmingly told Sacramento no new taxes. Most agree that in the current economic environment, large businesses cannot afford new regulations and the prospect of moving out of the state isn’t a cost-effective option--this leaves businesses susceptible to bullying politicians. “Look, the California economy is incredibly fragile and the state is suffering a man-made economic disaster,” Runner finished. For more stories; © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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