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Getting to the Bottom of the Car Tax Increase

August 16, 2003

Re "Logic Spins Out on Car Tax," editorial, Aug. 13: Editorials and articles about the "car tax" continue to miss an essential point. The California Constitution designates the vehicle license fees as city and county funds. This money represents $4.2 billion to local government. In 1998, Gov. Pete Wilson and the Legislature, led by its Republican members, perpetrated a fraud on California residents and gave a tax cut with money that did not belong to the state. This was presented to the cities as a "tax holiday" that would last only as long as the state could afford it. If the car tax increase is repealed and replaced by some other revenue, there is no guarantee cities and counties will receive any funds. Cities cannot absorb such a loss without cutting public safety personnel.

This is not a threat but a reality. People should ask how many public safety positions would be lost in their city if the car tax increase were repealed. Only then should they decide whether the lower fee is worth it. Further, the current governor should not be blamed for the increase. The blame lies with Wilson and the Legislature. They concocted this scheme and gave a tax cut/holiday with money that was not theirs.

Judy Smith

Assistant City Manager

Palos Verdes Estates

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