Tiered Water Ruling — Water Agencies Shouldn’t Make a Profit Off Homeowners

Last week the California Court of Appeal issued an important ruling interpreting Proposition 218, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sponsored initiative approved by voters in 1996. Proposition 218 is entitled “The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” for a very good reason. It reflects the policy that those who pay the bills for public expenditures – taxpayers – should have the final say over how much is taken out of their wallets and pocketbooks. It subjects virtually all local taxes and fees, especially those related to property, to voter or ratepayer control.

Proposition 218 was necessary because the Legislature and the courts had created loopholes in Proposition 13, the iconic California initiative that started the modern American tax revolt in 1978. While Proposition 13 was focused on property taxes, Proposition 218 was drafted to limit the explosion in other types of government exactions burdening homeowners including so-called “benefit assessments,” fees, charges and other sorts of property related levies.

What is important to note about Proposition 218, is that it did not ban property related fees but, rather, sought to return the imposition of fees like water, sewer and trash collection rates to the traditional concept of “cost of service.” Cost of service simply means what it says: The cost to a property owner for a service should not exceed government’s cost to provide that service.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeal concluded that “tiered” water rates, without being justified under “cost of service” principals, failed to comply with the constitutional mandates of Proposition 218. The lawsuit was brought by the Capistrano Taxpayers Association against the city of San Juan Capistrano for, among other transgressions, imposing water rates that were “tiered,” meaning those who used more water would be charged a higher amount per gallon.

The court ruling was immediately condemned by water agencies, state bureaucrats and even Governor Jerry Brown who decried the decision as putting a “straightjacket” on his policies to enforce water conservation. But the ruling did nothing of the sort. First, rather than saying all tiered water rates were automatically unconstitutional, the court merely stated that, whatever the methodology used to impose water rates, they must be based on cost of service.

The sin of San Juan Capistrano was its failure to justify its rate structure at all.

Second, local governments have an array of tools available to enforce conservation to deal with California’s current water shortage. Limiting landscape watering to once or twice a week; prohibitions against hosing down driveways or automobiles; rebates to homeowners and businesses to convert landscape to drought tolerate plants; water reclamation; desalination, such as the massive new project in San Diego County; and the list goes on and on.

So if water agencies have sufficient – and legal – tools available to them to incentivize conservation and deter waste, what is the basis for the shrill, over-the-top reaction to the Court of Appeal decision?  Simple. If these agencies are permitted to impose water rates divorced from “cost of service” principles, then they can generate taxpayer funds over their costs and make a “profit” from homeowners – something Proposition 218 was specifically drafted to prevent.

And in the case of Jerry Brown, he didn’t like the ruling because he is desperately searching for a revenue source for his ill-conceived “Twin Tunnels” project which, like his High Speed Rail debacle, simply isn’t ready for prime time.

There is an object lesson here. Droughts may be caused by Mother Nature, but water shortages are created by humans. California is now paying the price for not building new storage and conveyance infrastructure over the last several decades. Rather than complaining about “cost of service” requirements that are founded in common sense and rational policy, California should immediately correct the dereliction of prior political leaders and build what we need for a California in the 21st century.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Excessive Traffic Tickets: Hurting the Middle Class Again​

Police carEven good drivers get an occasional ticket. But in the last several years, there has been a perverse incentive for eagle-eyed enforcement officers to issue even more citations.  We are now discovering that California drivers are a goldmine for government by the imposition of traffic fines that are absurdly excessive.As recently as 2005, a ticket for drivers going from one to 15 mph over the speed limit in California would cost $99. This would include a base fine of $25 and additional charges of $74 to be shared with the state, the county, the courts and other programs.  Only nine years later the same ticket would include a base fine of $35 and another $203 to be divided among the usual suspects for a total of $238.

Currently, a ticket with a fine of $120 will cost the motorist about $627 by the time all the additional charges are added.   These penalty assessments are running more than four times the base fine.

Years ago, the idea behind traffic fines was to encourage safe driving by penalizing those who put themselves and others in danger.  In 1953, the first penalty assessment was established at the rate of one dollar for every $20 in base fine.  In those days the proceeds of the additional charge went to fund driver education in schools.  Today, the additional charges go to pay for state and local programs and to build and renovate courthouses.

No one seems to know exactly how much government rakes in from fines and the penalty assessments, but a study dating back to 2006, when the charges were much smaller, estimated the revenue at over a half billion dollars a year.

State Senator Robert Hertzberg has introduced legislation to help those who have lost drivers licenses due to failure to pay non-public safety related tickets.  Concerned that local jurisdictions have piled on fees for minor traffic violations to make up for lost revenue during the recession, he wants to match these drivers up with an amnesty program proposed by Jerry Brown that would reduce fines by 50 percent for eligible participants.

The problem is that both Hertzberg and Brown, while trying to help low income drivers, are ignoring the elephant in the room.  That is the millions of average folks for whom a traffic ticket can result in having to forgo almost a week’s pay.  Those in public office do not want to stand up for the typical motorists because they are not about to give up the income these punitive fines provide.

There’s no reason for these grossly inflated fines — fines that far exceed what is needed to deter unsafe driving — other than to provide the politicians with more spending money.

Excessive traffic fines are yet another example of the war being waged against the middle class by the political elite who have already burdened California drivers with high gas taxes and registration fees.  For the rich, a $500 traffic fine is no big deal.  For a working family, it may mean skipping a few meals.

So while the majority party in California loves to talk about how much they look out for the middle class, the reality is that they really don’t care.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

​Minimum Wage Hikes Hurt the Economy and the Poor

California has raised its minimum wage four times over the past 13 years, with each increase outpacing the federal minimum wage. California’s current minimum wage is 138 percent of the federal level, and with the impending statewide increase mandated by current law in 2016, California will have the highest minimum wage in the country.

Despite clear negative impacts on both California’s economy and low income citizens, Senate Bill 3 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco) would mandate an additional statewide increase to $13 per hour with annual, auto-scheduled wage increases thereafter.

With another increase already teed up for January 2016, pre-programing additional increases is reckless.  The weight of economic data compels the conclusion that arbitrary minimum wage increases do more harm than good.  Motivated by the understandable desire to help the state’s lowest wage earners, the reality is that they reduce access to jobs for those citizens who need them most and further suppress upward mobility for those clinging to the bottom rung of the employment ladder.

Capitol Matrix Consulting studied the fiscal impact of a $13 minimum wage to the state and, not surprisingly, found devastating consequences.  The study identified a $200 million annual cost to the state due to the recent minimum wage increases already being phased in.  Worse yet, it projects a cost of $860 million to the state in the 2016-2017 fiscal year if the minimum wage is raised to $13.  (Most of these costs are incurred due to increased state payments for providers of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and increased state costs to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)).

These negative financial impacts would not be offset by any additional revenue to the state.  Paying for burdens would have to come from higher taxes – further accelerating an economic death spiral – or cuts to vital services and fewer public sector jobs.

While Capitol Matrix’s study analyzed the direct fiscal impacts of another increase, the projected costs to the state – totaling nearly a billion dollars a year – do not represent the full impact of such an increase.  Increasing labor costs on California’s millions of small businesses creates additional unintended consequences, including higher prices for the goods and services we rely on and reduced access to jobs for teens and low-skilled workers.  California’s recent minimum wage increase is not yet a year old, and another increase is only eight months away.  These two increases are a 25 percent wage increase in just 18 months, and small businesses are already feeling the pressure to cut hours, eliminate jobs and raise prices.

Like many well-intentioned progressive policies the actual effects of a significant increase in the minimum wage won’t match the promise of helping the working poor – in fact, just the opposite.  For struggling Californians looking for work, what good is an increase in the minimum wage if you can’t get a job?

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpa​yers’ rights.

​Union-backed organizations trying to dupe voters and taxpayers

Because of Proposition 13, the unions representing California’s government employees — employees that are the highest paid in all 50 states according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — have a huge stake in who is elected to the state Legislature.

While most Californians are aware that Proposition 13 limits increases in property taxes — they can be increased by 2 percent annually — they are less familiar with the requirement that new or increased state taxes receive a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature.  Proposition 13 authors Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann included this provision because they feared that if they were successful in saving taxpayers money, lawmakers, no doubt with union support, would turn around and attempt to increase the tax burden in other areas.

So the government employee unions are constantly working hard to increase their support in the legislature, with the goal of achieving a super-majority of compliant lawmakers to increase taxes and make even more money available for payroll.  This explains why the government unions have been making all-out efforts in special elections that are often overlooked by the general public.

For example, government union leaders have ramped up their efforts to influence the outcome in the upcoming May 17th special election for a vacant senate seat in the Bay Area.  Although the race is between two Democrats, they fear the election of Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, a self-described fiscal conservative and social progressive. His experience in city government has taught him the importance of responsible budgeting, and this, to the unions, is intolerable. To assure his defeat and the election of union compliant Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of union dues to finance a mailing from a group calling itself “Working families Opposing Glazer for Senate.”

The problem is that the unions apparently do not want those who receive the mailing to know who is paying for it. State law requires that the top two contributors of more than $50,000 be listed on the mailer, but the names of the State Council of Service Employees, which gave $185,000, and the California School Employees Association, which gave $75,000 are nowhere to be found. Glazer has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission, but more voters will see the misleading mailers than are likely to hear of a FPPC decision, and the damage is done.

Government employee unions being shy about public exposure is not unusual.  Unions back a number of organizations that at first glance appear to be looking after taxpayers’ interests.  In San Diego, they have set up the Middle Class Taxpayers Association that has opposed pension reform.

And, of course, there is the California Tax Reform Association, whose president, a former ’60s Berkeley radical, is dedicated to the overturning of Proposition 13’s taxpayer protections.  The group’s funding and board of directors come primarily from the government employee unions.

So when a group whose name makes it sound like a pro-taxpayer organization, or that it is representing average working folks, pushes policies that would raise taxes and the cost of government, it would be wise to look carefully for the union label.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’s rights.

Originally published by the HJTA.org

And The Political Chutzpah Award Goes To …

If an award were given for political chutzpah, members of the California Legislature would win hands down.

An example of chutzpah – a word whose synonyms include “insolence,” “cheek” and “gall” — would be an expensive restaurant adding a 25 percent tip to the bill after providing poor and insulting service.

Don’t blame California’s beleaguered taxpayers if they feel like diners at the restaurant in the above example.  Our state’s high tax rates in almost every category have resulted in Californians laboring under the second highest tax burden in all 50 states.

In return for these high taxes, roads are crumbling, schools are underperforming and services in general are well below par.  Money that could go to improving government services is syphoned off to support the highest paid state and local government employees in the nation and to provide them pensions in retirement that are as much as five times higher than what similar private sector workers can expect from Social Security.

Even though revenue to state government is surpassing expectations — State Controller Betty Yee has announced that February receipts were $6.6 billion, exceeding estimates by $1 billion, or 18.3 percent – Sacramento lawmakers are demanding more – much more.

State Sen. Robert Hertzberg is promoting an extension of the sales tax, already highest in all 50 states, to services. The goal would be to squeeze another $10 billion annually from taxpayers.

Then there is Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins who proposes a brand new tax on drivers to pay for highway and road repairs in California.  This new “fee” would take $1.8 billion dollars out of the pockets of hard working California citizens over the next five years.  This is especially ironic in that California already has the highest gas tax in the nation.

Not to be outdone, Assemblyman Jim Frazier has introduced a constitutional amendment (ACA 4) that lowers the Proposition 13 mandated two-thirds vote for special taxes to 55 percent, to fund local transportation projects.

Just what is a local transportation project, you might ask?  From the bill, “’local transportation project’ means the planning, design, development, financing, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, improvement, acquisition, lease, operation, or maintenance of local streets, roads, and highways, state highways and freeways, and public transit systems.”  In short, the potential for billions of dollars of higher taxes.

Government bureaucrats and the special interests that contract to provide transportation infrastructure related construction and services, are, no doubt, doing the happy dance at the thought of being handed billions of additional taxpayer dollars.

​​California taxes already rank at or near the top in almost every category.  With state government taking in money hand over fist, can there be any doubt that those California lawmakers promoting new taxes deserve an award for chutzpah?

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Is Voting for Voting’s Sake a Good Thing?

Voter turnout in California is low. Just three weeks ago, the election held in Los Angeles saw an embarrassing 10 percent turnout. And, of course, the statewide turnout just last November was almost as bad.Irrespective of political affiliation, the immediate reaction among those of us who are politically engaged is that low voter turnout is not good for democracy. But perhaps we should challenge that bit of conventional wisdom. Is voting for voting’s sake really a good thing?

Members of the self-serving political class, made up of politicians and the special interests that support them, complain about the lack of voter participation because they believe they should be seen as patriotically promoting the democratic process. But their faux sincerity is based entirely on whether or not they see a greater political advantage to a higher voter turnout. If they believe that a higher turnout will drive more low information voters, who can be easily persuaded by glossy mailers, they are all for more voters. (At one point it was suggested that Los Angeles should increase turnout by providing those who vote a chance to win cash through a lottery system.) If they don’t think that the additional votes are likely to help them, they will do nothing substantive to actually encourage greater participation.

Then there are the members of the “social engineering” class who are constantly looking after our welfare. Their thinking parallels that of those who want to control how much fat we eat, how much soda we drink and who want to get us out our cars. They know what is best for us, and what is best for us is that we all vote. (Daniel Webster once said that “the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.”)

From newspaper editors to academics, the “do-gooder” class weighs in on ways to solve this “serious problem” of voter disinterest and will sometimes stoop to promoting gimmicks to gin up turnout. On the Los Angeles ballot was a city charter amendment, which passed, that moves local elections so as to coincide with the state and federal elections that take place in even-numbered years. Almost no consideration was given to the fact that local issues will now become buried under the publicity surrounding races for president, governor, Congress and the Legislature. And if even-numbered years make such a big difference, why were the elections in 2014, an even-numbered year, ignored by so many voters?

There is no one reason why more eligible voters don’t participate. Some say that voting makes no difference, so why bother. Others may actually be exercising their right not to vote because they simply don’t see the need. Others might intelligently conclude that they are not personally informed enough and are satisfied with the decisions made by those who are more informed.

Let’s just hope that the scolds and manipulators will relax and let citizens exercise their constitutional rights as they see fit. Just as it is legally and morally wrong to prevent citizens from voting, we would find it extremely unpleasant to live with a system under which voting became compulsory.

Don’t believe that could happen? In the 2002 Iraqi presidential elections the turnout was 100 percent and Saddam Hussein received every one of the 11,445,638 votes. We suspect that many of those “participants” would have enjoyed the right not to vote.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

This piece originally appeared on HJTA.org

Anti-Taxpayer Forces Hit New Low in Special Election

Last November’s election saw some of the most craven political tactics ever seen in California.  Fearful that they would lose the two thirds supermajority in both houses, many anti-taxpayer candidates – usually Democrats – attempted to portray themselves as friendly to taxpayers and in favor of Proposition 13 when, in fact, the exact opposite was true.  Perhaps the worst example of this was the race between Proposition 13 ally Janet Nguyen and Jose Solorio for a Senate seat in Orange County.  Democrats were so fearful of losing this seat that Governor Brown unleashed radio advertising claiming that Solorio was the candidate who would protect Proposition 13.  Thanks in large part to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee, voters were informed that Nguyen was by far the superior candidate over the proven tax-and-spend Solorio.  Thankfully, she won the election handily receiving more than 58% of the vote.

Well, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, here we go again.

Next week, on March 17th, voters in the East Bay area of Northern California will decide who will fill a state senate seat.  Or, more likely, they will pick two candidates who will face one another in a runoff election.  In this race, there are three viable candidates – all Democrats.  The lone Republican candidate, Michaela Hertle, dropped out of the race and threw her support behind Steve Glazer, a moderate pro-business Democrat who appears to be a good fit for this fiscally conservative, socially moderate district.

The problem is that Glazer is hated by powerful public sector labor organizations.  From their view, he had the audacity to oppose a BART strike – which inconvenienced tens of thousands of Bay Area commuters – and, even worse, he said he would not support a change in Proposition 13’s rules regarding property owned by businesses.

Labor organizations would like nothing more than to prevent Glazer from being one of the top two vote getters next week.  If that occurs, then the only candidates appearing on the ballot in the May runoff election would be two tax-and-spend, labor compliant, left leaning Democrats.  For Proposition 13 supporters, this is the worst case scenario.

So, rather than tell the truth about their anti-taxpayer agenda, the labor organizations have financed an expensive mail campaign in favor of the Republican who has dropped out of the race.  This may seem crazy, but the goal here is to confuse Republican voters into voting their party as opposed to a moderate Democrat who actually has a chance to win.

This strategy reveals two things.  First, powerful public sector labor organizations will stop at nothing to advance their narrow interests.  Second, they recognize – as do most political observers – that Proposition 13 and the interests of taxpayers still resonate powerfully in California.

While the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association PAC has not endorsed a candidate in this special election, we reserve the right to do so in the runoff election.  But one thing is certain.  Of the candidates, Steve Glazer appears to be the most sympathetic to the issues of concern to California taxpayers – including the preservation of Proposition 13.  At a minimum, he is the least beholden to unions.  And in this state, that is saying something.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Whether Politicians Like It or Not Gasoline Is California’s Life Blood

The Field Poll reports that for the first time in seven years more California voters believe the state is moving in the right direction (50 percent) than feel it is on the wrong track (41 percent). Those living in coastal California are much more likely to have a positive outlook on our state’s future than inland residents. And Democrats are more optimistic than Republicans, so it may be safe to assume that Democrats living in Malibu, Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are much happier than Republicans living in Central Valley and other areas with high unemployment.

Like politicians everywhere, California’s governing class will attempt to claim credit for this reversal of what had been nearly unanimous pessimism.  Moreover, they will also claim that this is vindication of progressive policies that have given California one of the most harsh tax and regulatory environments in the nation.

However they explain the voters’ optimism, they are unlikely to bring up the one thing for which they can claim no credit whatsoever; the lower gas prices that existed during the period the poll was conducted, January 26-February 16, just before the cost of a gallon of gas began to vault upward again.  With prices in late January down almost 2 bucks per gallon since the high in 2014, many Californians have had reason to smile. It is also interesting to note that the last time more voters than not were positive about their state, gas prices were also down.

Even if there is not an exact correlation, when drivers who fill up their cars two or three times a month see that they are saving money, they are definitely in a better mood.What is ironic is that while the Sacramento political class may want to take credit for voter optimism, they have been working overtime to keep the cost of gasoline high. Between the high gas tax and the additional “carbon tax” imposed on manufacturers that is putting upward pressure on prices, the politicians have proven they are no friend of the millions of average folks who must depend on their cars for transportation.  According to State Board of Equalization Member George Runner, even with the price dip, Californians in January were paying as much as 47 cents more per gallon than drivers in other states.

Acknowledging that gas taxes are providing sufficient revenue, the State Board of Equalization last week reduced the state gas tax by 6 cents a gallon beginning this July. The reduction is based on a formula enacted by the Legislature in 2010, a formula that is so complicated that most news reporters don’t understand it.  Runner rightfully objects to this confusing system that hides the actual cost of the gas tax by hiding the second carbon tax that is only reflected in the overall price.  Currently, Californians pay about 64 cents per gallon in taxes and fees — the second-highest rate in the nation — but we become number one when the hidden tax of about 15 cents is added in.

If the Sacramento politicians really want to see voters smile, they should lay off trying to increase costs for the millions of Californians who depend on their cars to go to work, take their children to school and to do the weekly shopping.  Because one thing is certain – the optimism that Californians are feeling now will disappear in a heartbeat if gas prices return to what they were less than a year ago.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

People Believe That Government Wastes Money Because It Does

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, Americans believe that their state government wastes 42 cents of every tax dollar. However, here in California, the political elite dismiss citizens’ widespread concerns about waste and, instead, complain that the taxes they collect from beleaguered taxpayers are not enough.  This complaint is hard to understand given that California has the highest income tax rate in America as well as the highest state sales tax rate.  Oh, and did I mention that we also have the highest gas tax in the United States?Notwithstanding this heavy tax burden, our political elites in Sacramento have recently put forward numerous proposals to raise taxes even higher, including new taxes on services, property, gas, oil and tobacco.  Apparently, it has never occurred to them that perhaps they should address the endemic waste, fraud and abuse that permeates all levels of government in California.

To set the record straight, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation has released a new report titled Follow the Money 2014, documenting numerous specific examples of government waste that cumulatively add up to billions of dollars.

Politicians and bureaucrats are likely to ignore this information while continuing to demand more money, but taxpayers should hold them accountable for the mismanagement of our state.  The report includes instances of waste such as $848 million in overpayments by CalWORKs, $194 million in uncollected bills at the state toxics agency and University of California officials who seem to believe they should not have to disclose how they spend billions in taxpayer funds.

While the report sets forth numerous examples of waste, fraud and abuse, it still represents the tip of the iceberg. Last year’s report for 2013 exposed instances of waste, fraud and abuse was disheartening enough, but here we are in 2014 seeing that politicians have squandered billions of dollars more.

When taxpayers hear politicians talking about the need for “new revenues,” HJTA’s Follow the Money report provides a strong counterpoint as to why higher taxes are unjustified.  Despite the explosion of taxing and spending, our roads are ranked among the worst.  Although education spending has nearly doubled on a per capita basis since 1970, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation gave our state an “F” for effectiveness per dollar spent.

Instead of devoting their energy to concocting new schemes to tax people more, California policymakers instead should channel their attention in a constructive way and focus on real solutions to our state’s chronically high unemployment and poverty.  And as the Follow the Money Report makes clear, our state leaders also need to focus on how they use the abundant resources given to them by taxpayers in ways that are neither wasteful not fraudulent.

Until that happens, taxpayers are well within their rights to reject any and all new tax proposals.

The report can be downloaded by going to HJTA.org where it will be found under “Hot Topics.”
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Farmer Brothers the Latest Company to Flee CA

In the 1930s, tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Oklahoma, fled the Dust Bowl for California with hopes of a better life. Today it is ironic that California’s Farmers (Farmer Brothers coffee company, that is) has announced that it is fleeing our state for a less expensive destination that includes Oklahoma on the short list. Any humor, however, will no doubt be lost on the 350 employees who are about to lose their jobs paying $40,000 to $80,000.

Farmer Brothers, a fixture in California for over 100 years, is just another of a long list of firms that, fed up with California’s high taxes and anti-business environment, have left for less costly states. Other recent refugees include Chevron, Nestle, Sony, Charles Schwab, Occidental Petroleum, Toyota, Campbell Soup, Nissan and Comcast, all of which have moved all or a significant portion of their work force out of state.

These departures are treated with a great collective yawn from Sacramento. When asked, flacks for the governor and other senior elected officials try to convince the public that these losses are not due to state policies and that the jobs and tax revenue lost are not significant anyway. Some in the media have even been known to listen to these rationalizations from elected officials with a straight face and proceed to parrot back this nonsense in what they report. Those who claim that California is not hemorrhaging companies, and the jobs they provide, should be challenged to provide their list of major companies that are relocating to California or that are making a significant expansion of their California workforce.

Sure, California is benefiting from the national recovery like all other states and some jobs, mostly low-paying, are being created. But California’s job creation for good middle class employment is anemic compared to pro-growth states like Texas.

Californians should not be surprised to see these companies go. The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation lists California at 48, two from the bottom, in its 2015 Tax Climate Index. (This will, no doubt, annoy those on the far left who claim, that because of Proposition 13, California businesses do not pay their “fair share” in taxes.) Then there is Chief Executive Magazine, whose survey of CEOs has ranked California dead last as a place to do business for eight years in a row.

The Dust Bowl of the 1930s made the land unproductive. Eighty years later, California’s Tax Bowl, where we lead, or nearly lead the nation in almost every tax category is making our state unproductive. Any small economic progress our state has been able to make has been in spite of, not because of, Sacramento’s policies.

Those who jumped the gun to stake out land in the Oklahoma Territory before President Grover Cleveland officially proclaimed it open to settlement in 1889, were nicknamed “Sooners.” (Today, the University of Oklahoma proudly uses this name for its athletic teams.) Perhaps it would be appropriate to call companies now leaving California as “Laters,” as in “See ya later.” Sacramento could raise revenue by selling this motto on a bumper sticker to those departing our state.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Originally published at HJTA.org