The terms “Blue State” and “Red State” were coined about a dozen years ago by journalist Tim Russert and were based on the colored maps being used by the television networks to graphically display presidential election results. Although originally based on the arbitrary decision to label Republican voting states red, and those supporting the Democratic candidate blue, these colors have also come to represent liberal (blue) and conservative (red).
The latest Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Legislative Report Card demonstrates that, in terms of state representation, California continues to be the bluest of blue. But while California has a reputation as being ultra-liberal on a host of issues, for purposes of the HJTA Report Card, we focused solely on how legislative votes were cast on tax issues.
Taken as a whole, the Report Card shows that a preponderance of lawmakers actively support the redistribution of wealth, not from one citizen to another, but from all citizens to the government. This allows the majority party in the Legislature to continue to reward their most active backers, the government employee unions. Government employees in California are the highest paid in all 50 states and it is no secret that money to meet the payroll must come from taxpayers.
The HJTA Legislative Report Card is designed to help Californians gauge how their state representatives are actually performing on taxpayer-related issues. For the 2013 legislative year, 20 bills were used to evaluate and grade voting records. Practically all of these bills deal with tax increases — often masquerading as fees — or direct assaults on Proposition 13 and Proposition 218, the Right to Vote on Taxes Act.
There is no question that the consequences of what occurs “Under the Dome” are very real and personal for average taxpayers. For example, decisions made by legislators in the last five years have helped ensure we have the highest income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation. These are facts most lawmakers fail to mention when discussing their voting records. The letter grades allow Californians to see past the politicians’ self-promoting press releases and glossy campaign mailers touting their record in Sacramento.
Of the 120 members of the Legislature, three times as many (79) earned an “F” as those who were awarded “25” an “A.” This is more alarming when it is considered that many of these lawmakers will be safely ensconced in their offices for another 11 years due to voter approval last year of an extension in term limits. And with increasing numbers of legislators from both parties capitulating to pressure from special interest lobbyists and government employee union leaders, the environment for taxpayers in Sacramento could get a lot worse before it gets better.
However, there are some lights in the Capitol that are still burning bright. Nine lawmakers achieved a perfect score by standing with taxpayers through thick and thin. Senators Anderson, Gaines, Knight, Nielsen and Wyland, and Assembly Members Dahle, Donnelly, Gains and Jones have provided heroic service to taxpayers in 2013.
To view the entire Report Card and see how your representative faired, please visit www.HJTA.org and look under “Hot Topics.” And if you want to have influence on their future votes, we recommend you contact your representatives to thank or excoriate them as you see fit.
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.