Grab Bag: New Taxes? No Limits?

March 12, 2008 · Filed Under Uncategorized · Comments Off 

On this hump day, while the nation is riveted by the goings on at the statehouse that's 2,852 miles away from Sac Town (hello Albany), here are a few items that... granted... may not be able to compete for intrigue but are worth pondering:

THE CLERK WILL OPEN THE ROLL: Assembly Democrats are poised this afternoon to make good on their threat to force a vote on new oil taxes that would help fund public schools. The bill making a speedy trip to the floor is AB 9XXX, which would impose both a tax on oil drilling in California and a tax on some oil industry profits. Democrats argue that California is the only oil producing state in the nation without a tax on the bubbling crude that's barreled within its borders. The oil tax idea first rose to the surface (sorry, the pun was unavoidable) as part of Proposition 87, the failed November 2006 ballot initiative with a similar tax that would have funded alternative energy research.

Given the fact that a tax hike takes a two-thirds vote... which means at least six GOP votes are needed in the Assembly... you can consider this one dead on arrival at this point. And that begs the question: is this evening's vote on a drilling tax a drill of the political kind, designed to simply make a point? Probably. But it's a point worth making in the mind of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who said as much in a news conference this morning at a Sacramento elementary school.

"It's an effort on our part to show voters who's on the side of education, and who isn't," he said.

NIXING TERM LIMITS: Fresh off the heels of voters rejecting a modification of the state's legislative term limits law, one veteran GOP legislator is pushing something even more extreme --a plan to eliminate the 18-year old term limits law completely.

Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) announced today he hopes to introduce a new government reform measure that would, among other things, repeal term limits as of December 2016.

"Term limits are not serving the people of California well," said Ashburn at a Capitol news conference. He also dismissed the existence of any message from the voters when they rejected Proposition 93 by arguing that the defeated proposal's loophole for incumbents made it flawed from the beginning.

"I'm not sure we know where the public is, exactly, on the issue of term limits," said Ashburn.

The senator said that his plan's effective date of 2016 assures that it doesn't benefit incumbents... though he admitted that there's no way to stop former legislators from trying to win back their old jobs in 2018.

The proposal would also change campaign finance laws and the way political redistricting is done.

GUV ANTES UP: And speaking of redistricting, the governor's political operation is digging a little futher into its coffers today to help qualify a redistricting initiative for the November ballot. We're told that Schwarzenegger's California Dream Team is making a $250,000 contribution to the effort. That would bring his total buy-in so far to $300,000. As we know in California... it takes money to get signatures.

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