California’s taxes are already amongst the highest in the nation. Proposition 13 has been the one safeguard for property owners against the State’s ever increasing tax burden. A split property tax roll would be disastrous for California, resulting in billions of dollars in lost economic activity and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs just in the next few years. All Californians would see increases in the cost of goods and services.
We would also see increased instability in local government finances, as cities and counties become more susceptible to fluctuations in the real estate market. Protecting Proposition 13 from attempts to gut it is critical.
California can’t become a better place to do business until we understand that there is more to taxation than just direct out-of-pocket taxes. Over-regulation imposes “hidden taxes,” increasing the cost of goods and services to all Californians and too often hindering job creation. As a community, we may come to the conclusion that the cost of a particular regulation is necessary to meet some greater societal good, but an open and transparent government requires that we know what those costs are before imposing the regulation. A cost-benefit analysis should be required of all new legislation and regulations. New regulations should also have a sunset clause that eliminates the regulation after a certain time unless renewed. This will force agencies to periodically review regulations and assess their effectiveness.
One of the gimmicks Sacramento uses to try and put its own house in order is to burden local governments with unfunded mandates. I’ll work to repeal many of these unfunded mandates from the state that are costing cities and counties hundreds of millions to comply with. A moratorium should be placed on any new unfunded mandates.
Our State’s pension reform efforts to date aren’t enough. California’s bipartisan Little Hoover Commission has warned that “California’s pension plans are dangerously underfunded, the result of overly generous benefit promises, wishful thinking and an unwillingness to plan prudently. Unless aggressive reforms are implemented now, the problems will get far worse.” The failure to fix the broken pension system is already negatively impacting the ability of the state and local government to provide core services.
Going forward, employers and employees need to more equally share in pension costs and pension abuses like double dipping and spiking need to be curtailed. Current cost issues also need to be addressed and cost of living adjustments must be suspended until unfunded liabilities are met.
We also need legislation to give local governments the flexibility to realistically address their pension liabilities.
Control of K-12 education belongs in the local communities, not in Sacramento. True reform means returning curriculum and disciplinary control back to local districts. In the process, reduce the state educational bureaucracy and send the saving back to classroom instruction.
True reform also means greater opportunities for charter schools and voucher programs. In exchange for those opportunities and flexibility to develop innovative curricula, there must be greater accountability for student performance. For charter schools, this accountability also extends to financial accountability and effective school operations.