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As we noted in July, the California Parks Department managed to hide $54 million for 12 years. For more than a decade, the California Department of Finance, responsible for such matters, failed to find the money. But apparently performance has improved. The same Finance Department managed to find an additional $1.4 billion available for the budget. Conveniently enough, the Department did not report this $1,400,000,000 until the afternoon of November 6, which happened to be election day.
That meant voters could not take the $1.4 billion into account as they assessed multiple ballot measures for tax increases. Those included Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which hiked the top rate a full 29.3 percent to 13.3 percent, highest in the nation. A 3.45 percent increase also boosts the sales tax to 7.5 percent.
Embattled taxpayers have good reason to believe that California government could be hiding a lot more money. Last year, Governor Brown claimed that another $4 billion would be available but said nothing about where this money would come from. Brown responded to the hidden $54 million in the Parks Department with a “hallelujah!”
The governor is also jubilant over the victory of his huge tax hike, which he justifies by quoting Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given much shall be required.” To which he adds: “And certainly those who have been blessed the most, who have disproportionately extracted, by whatever skill, more and more from the national wealth, they’re going to have to share more of that.”
In this vision, high earners are simply greedy takers. In reality, they were not “given” anything but create wealth by inventing useful products people want to buy. It is government that “extracts” money, and always wants more, not to offer new services but to fix a mess of government creation. Gov. Brown, by the way, sees California as part of a national “tax increase sweep.” Higher taxes could be the cornerstone of another Brown presidential run in 2016.
The Golden State, meanwhile, remains a showcase for abuse of power, secrecy, and government greed. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.