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California Can't Tax Its Way to Solvency

June 01, 2003

Contrary to "You Don't Have It So Bad" (editorial, May 27), California's tax burden compared with other states is so high that it is a factor in making California noncompetitive. California's tax burden is 24% above the national average, according to a recent Milken Institute study. And according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of the Census, California is eighth-highest among the states when tax burden is compared on the basis of personal income. None of the Western states with which California competes is even close to eighth.

When the early 1990s' tax increases were "triggered off" or were repealed, California's economy surged. During the six-year period between 1995 and 2000 when this occurred, state general fund revenues grew 80%, not including billions in tax relief. Growth in the state economy is a revenue-increase opportunity that vastly exceeds any tax increase under consideration.

California can't tax its way out of this budget mess. We need to stimulate job growth to increase general fund revenues, which can then fund essential services such as public safety and education.

Larry McCarthy

President

California Taxpayers Assn.

Sacramento

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Your editorial regarding the tax burden of Californians claims that Californians should not complain because the progressive tax rate causes the tax burden to be shifted away from the middle class toward those in the upper-income bracket. This may be shocking news, but those with higher incomes have an equal right to complain as those in the middle class. And an equal right to keep their money.

Thomas Downes

Cerritos

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You suggest that part of the cause for California's budget crisis is that more of our federal tax dollars are leaving the state than are being returned to California by the federal government. It seems that taxes must be raised for Californians in order to close the state budget gap. If that is the case, it makes no sense to raise the sales tax. The sales tax is the one tax that is not deductible on our federal tax returns.

Income taxes, property taxes and vehicle registration taxes are deductible. Increasing the sales tax will not change the fact that Californians pay disproportionately more federal taxes. Let's close the state budget gap with taxes that will at least reduce our federal taxes.

Roger Fieldman

Brentwood

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