Insanity Now Moves To The States

In General Interest by Jonathan Tasini0 Comments

With all the foolishness everyone seems to associate with the folks in Washington, D.C., don’t worry — coming to a state near you will be same lame-brained ideas that have caused a heap of damage for decades. You know the rap: lower taxes because, presto, that’s the magic potion for all that can be good. Oh, no.

The warning comes from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy via Citizens for Tax Justice:

Following an election that left half the states with veto-proof legislative majorities, 37 states with one-party rule and more than a dozen with governors who put tax reform high on their agendas, 2013 promises to be a big year for changes to state tax laws.

The scrutiny lawmakers will be giving to their state and local tax systems presents an extraordinary opportunity to assess and address structural flaws and ensure that states have the necessary revenue to provide vital public services now and in the future. Yet, it is already clear that “tax reform” for some state lawmakers may be little more than a vehicle for ideological goals like shrinking government spending or cutting taxes for profitable corporations and the wealthy.

What is so goofy about going back to the old, tired, failed anti-tax fervor is that Jerry Brown has proven them all wrong. If you even believe that deficits are the crisis to deal with now (as opposed to the lack of decent jobs), then, here is Brown’s solution:

Mr. Brown was not just talking about a balanced budget. He projected that the state would begin posting surpluses starting next year, leading to a projected surplus of $21.5 million by 2014, a dramatic turnaround from the deficit of $26 billion — billion, not million — he faced when he was elected in 2010.

The governor said California’s finances were strong enough that he wanted to put aside a $1 billion reserve fund to guard against future downturns, and included in the budget sharp increases in aid to public schools and the state university system, both targets of big spending cutbacks.

The change in fortunes reflected cuts that were imposed over the past two years, a temporary tax surcharge approved by voters in November that expires in seven years, and a general improvement in the state’s economy. [emphasis added]

The California tax surcharge aimed at the richest people is the obvious solution — one that would have been considered in the days before “taxes” became a slur, or at least most politicians refused to advocate for.

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