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Tony Strickland: The only way out of the budget mess

Posted: April 18, 2009 10:40 p.m.
Updated: April 19, 2009 4:30 a.m.
As of April 1, California’s sales tax increase went into effect, raising Santa Clarita from 8.25 percent to 9.25 percent.

In addition, the increase in the personal income tax and vehicle license fee and the decrease in the dependent tax credit went into effect as well. These tax increases, which I vigorously opposed, were approved by the Legislature in February’s recent budget deal as a plan to help fill California’s $42 billion budget gap.

For countless families I represent, these tough economic times are devastating. With tumbling home prices and unemployment at a record high of 11.2 percent, people are concerned about jobs and income stability, which has caused taxpayers to spend less.

Increasing taxes on hardworking taxpayers is never the solution to fixing a deficit as large as ours. And as long as taxes keep increasing in California, people will continue to have less money to spend, costing jobs, and therefore giving us a bigger budget hole.

The goal of the recent budget negotiations struck on Feb. 19 to close California’s budget gap is proving to be a failure.

Increased sales and personal income taxes are not only causing people to spend less and jobs to flee the state; now the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting another $8 billion budget deficit for the state of California.

And that’s just for starters. The Legislative Analyst’s Office reports the budget deficit could reach $26 billion in just three years.

This means that, once again, legislators will have to reconvene this summer to try to settle California’s budget deficit — a deficit that was supposed to be fixed by last February’s budget deal. As I pointed out at the time, it was no fix.

That’s why I am focused on legislation that promotes job creation instead of tax increases that further push valuable jobs and resources out of our great state.

California needs to foster a business environment that encourages innovation and the creation of new kinds of jobs entirely.

We must also focus on job growth through regulation reform, tax reform, and we must work to cut unnecessary red tape on businesses and reduce wasteful government spending.

One example to jumpstart our economy is for California to offer tax credits and incentives for individuals and businesses that transition to a renewable, more energy-efficient economy.

Not only will this help create jobs, but it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve the environment, and lower energy prices.

Raising taxes will only choke our sputtering economy, delay its recovery, cost jobs to many working California families, and drive down the amount of actual revenues that state and local governments collect.

As Winston Churchill once said, “for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

It’s time for legislators to adopt budget solutions that focus on job creation and economic stimulus instead of higher taxes. As your state senator, I am firmly committed to getting our Golden State back on the right track.

Tony Strickland is a Republican senator for the 19th Senate District, whiich includes portions of the Santa Clarita Valley. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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