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Steve Lunetta: The big tax man cometh

Right About Now

Posted: November 8, 2009 9:28 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Hey, all you Democrats and liberals out there! Are you happy now? The vile and insidious budget trick put in place by the state of California is now coming to fruition.

Have you weighed your paycheck this month? Should feel a little lighter. That's because it is.

One of the cynical ploys by the state is to increase the amount of withholding for taxes on your paycheck. Effective immediately, everyone gets a 10 percent boost in the amount held by the state. For example, if you pay $100, you now pay $110.

But wait, there's more!

Supplemental pay - like sick time - also gets a 10 percent increase. Remember that special "bonus" tax that sucks down so much of a Christmas or performance award? Its going up too, from 9.3 percent to 10.23 percent.

The Los Angeles Times says this should raise an additional $1.7 billion. Further, the Times relates that "California will probably continue to collect the tax at a higher rate for many years to come - or find an additional $1.7 billion to slice from a future budget, an unlikely occurrence."

This means that all of us are giving an interest-free loan to Sacramento until next year. I'll bet you never realized how generous you are.

This comes at a time when most Californians are struggling to make ends meet and are severely cutting back. However, Sacramento does not seem capable of common sense cost cutting.

The Legislative Analyst's Office shows that tax revenue has increased every year from 2000-2001 through 2007-2008, rising from $71.4 billion to $102.6 billion. Unfortunately, due to the recession, projected income for 2008-2009 is only $91.1 billion.

It does not take a brain surgeon to figure out that we need to reduce spending to match income. But what has the Legislature done? It increased spending.

During the same time period, spending rose from $78.0 billion to $103.3 billion. In 2008-2009, spending will be $103.4 billion resulting in a single-year deficit of over $12 billion dollars.

Hence, this is the reason that they need a loan from you.

The California Republican Party just released an eye-popping list of wasteful spending gleaned from the state Auditor's Report. Sacramento doesn't want you to know about these items.

From the Department of Education: "Unreliable information about staffing levels at school districts, in which certain individuals were credited with more than 1.5 full-time equivalent positions."

Hmm. California kids aren't 1.5 times smarter than they were before. I wonder where the extra money is going.

From the Department of Health Care Services: "Health Services has weak controls for disbursing certain funds - it disbursed more than $14.7 million based primarily on e-mails from vendors with no subsequent assurance the vendors performed as expected."

Wow. Getting paid for just sending an e-mail. Sounds like a Nigerian Internet 419 scam.

From the University of California and California State systems: "The California University system suffered from inconsistent input or lack of supporting documentation from various campuses providing data. As a result, we were not able to use the databases to provide complete and accurate university-wide compensation of highly paid individuals by type and funding source."

Translation: They have no idea what the top university officials are actually making.

From the Department of Water Resources: "Made funding decisions for $29.1 million in competitive grants based on incomplete information. ... In fact, one project awarded four years ago had yet to commence because the land has not been acquired."

Sounds a little bit like building a high school in Castaic.

And there is so much more to share but 750 words does not suffice. Check out www.cagop.org/index.cfm/press_release_601.htm to get more details.

What can we do? Its very simple, and if most of us do it, we can severely blunt this new attack from Sacramento. Change your California withholding to compensate for the 10 percent increase that the state has hit us with. You can get a state form DE-4 at www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de4.pdf.

The Times article stated that "California's budget leaders are banking on the hope that most won't change their withholding." Time to remove that hope, Republicans, Independents and conservatives.

Of course, I would encourage all of my Democrat and liberal friends to simply ignore this suggestion and loan more of their money to the state.

After all, they should be very happy that they now have what they have always wanted - an out of control tax-and-spend state government.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal.

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