Another new year is upon us, and at the local, state, and federal levels American communities are under siege from a relentless administrative state, escalating costs for essential services, and demands for an even heavier tax burden upon citizens, small businesses, and corporations alike.
The Democrat controlled state Legislature has already floated proposals to tax text messages (withdrawn after being threatened by Silicon Valley), tax meat like alcohol and tobacco, establish a "right to be sheltered" for the homeless/transient community, and of course, Medicare for all. A mandated shelter requirement will severely impact small communities already overburdened with massive increases in CALPERS contributions, which are eating up most of new city revenues generated by commercial development; some cities and counties are facing bankruptcy as a result. Newsom's campaign promise of Medicare for all threatens to disrupt the medical insurance system statewide and based upon other states' and nations' experience, will not result in superior medical care, just delays, physician shortages, and a massive health care bureaucracy. It also assumes that the feds will fork over billions of dollars currently dispensed to Medicare patients directly to the state bureaucracy.
Starting in January, the cap and trade program will go into full effect, which will increase gas prices by as much as 72 cents a gallon, according to opponents of the entire cap and trade policy adopted several years ago. While much of the country will be enjoying much reduced gas prices, some even below $2/per gallon, Californians will continue a relentless march to $4, $5, or $6 a gallon at the pump. The war on fossil fuels will continue with even more vigor with progressive Democrat super-majorities in both houses of the state Legislature and Newsom in the governor's mansion. Republicans should greatly improve their golf game for the next two years as nobody will be listening to them in Sacramento until the 2020 election.
It puzzles me how every projection for energy requirements is exponentially expanding, with California population increases, ever-increasing use of electronic devices, electric cars, etc., yet we are reducing our in-state energy production across the board. We're closing our last nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon and continue to dismantle dams producing hydroelectric power, and both energy sources are greenhouse gas emission free. Instead, we will buy our energy from other states, increasing reliance upon fossil fuel production that's in somebody else's backyard. Will a true believer please explain: If we are facing a global climate crisis, how is it that you keep insisting we shut down Diablo Canyon and other nuclear and hydroelectric plants that would take a deep bite out of greenhouse gas emissions?
California is in a particularly bad way with an increasing exit of wealth producers from the state. According to The Wall Street Journal ("High-Tax State Exodus," Dec. 29, 2018), at least "1,800 companies have shifted jobs or capital out of California in 2016 and about 13,000 companies have left the state since 2008." The statistic is interesting because other statistics from Investors Business Daily state at least 1,687 companies left the state between 2008 and 2015. If the stats are accurate, it means that most of the 13,000 businesses leaving California have done so within the last few years.
The population of the state overall is increasing, a result of foreign immigration, however, according to The Wall Street Journal, "since 2010, a net 710,000 people have left California for other states, losing more people than in-migrating from other states." The middle class is leaving and not looking back, resulting in a greater divide between the "haves and have nots." It's not a prescription for political stability or a sound economy, given that the state relies upon high income earners to sustain its budget.
The biggest insult to voters however will be the full-throated assault upon Proposition 13's protection against runaway property taxes. The Dems have already got a ballot proposition in the mill for the 2020 election to split the property tax roll into commercial and residential properties for purposes of taxation. A split roll will allow reassessment of commercial properties at today's valuation, not the valuation system established in 1978 under Proposition 13. The result will be massive property tax increases upon all commercial property, including rental properties such as apartment buildings. It will be catastrophic for small businesses; their rent will skyrocket. I would anticipate many empty storefronts over time, decimating downtown core shopping areas.
Residential renters will see their monthly rent explode when landlords are forced to increase rent to cover increased property taxes. I attended a dinner in early December where state Sen. Shannon Grove warned of the consequences of tampering with Proposition 13. The county assessor was also present, and he stated that there aren't enough qualified appraisers to conduct the assessments required under a split roll property tax system. It would take at least five years to conduct the assessments, possibly even 10.
Finally, if you are a gun owner and believe in the Second Amendment as a right, why are you still living in California? A Democrat from the Bay Area has already proposed mandatory firearm confiscation. Texas anyone? Δ
Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at email@example.com.