California’s system of taxation has evolved into a monstrosity that is unreliable, disjointed, inequitable and destructive. There was a reason, after all, that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders established a special commission to come up with a better way.
But the tax reform panel recommendations expected this week will have a shelf life of about 15 seconds. Here’s why:
– This particular list of recommendations is too ambitious and too radical to win public support without years of controversy. A so-called net receipts tax may be the solution, but almost everyone will find something not to like about it.
– A legislature dominated by special interests has refused to change the current tax system. Expecting lawmakers to pursue reforms of any kind might be politely described as optimistic.
– Californians, for good reasons, don’t trust state government. The public won’t accept reforms unless it believes that elected representatives are prepared to do the right thing. (A new Public Policy Institute of California poll found that fewer in one in five state residents believes state government serves the public interest.)
So, we are stuck. We know our current system of government is dysfunctional, but we don’t trust anyone who promises to fix it. Before we put California together again, we will need to find a way to restore faith in representative government.
You can read this morning’s Press Democrat story on the tax reform commission by clicking here.