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Poor Tea Partiers. The party is over. The tea is cold and the dregs are bitter. Or are they? Maybe the tea has hallucinogenic properties, the effects of which have not yet worn off.

jerry brown

At least that's the impression left by Sally Zelikovsky in her Marin Voice of November 14. No sooner had Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 passed, ensuring the state would not fall off its own fiscal cliff, and funding for education and other services would continue, than she is accusing the Democrats of "trying to ruin California."

The people of the state just voted for a major fix to the budget problem, proposed by Democrats, and that is the party attempting to bring the state to its knees?

Yes, says Zelikovsky, because taxes are going up, businesses will leave in droves and the poor huddled middle classes will starve in the streets. It's not just the fact that Proposition 30 passed; it's that the Democrats have a 2/3 majority which may enable them to (gasp) levy even more taxes on the beleaguered masses.

Look, no one wants to pay higher taxes, and sales taxes are regressive, but part of Proposition 30 was a progressive tax on the highest income earners. Middle class families will not see their income taxes. Small businesses, however, in the mind of Zelikovsky, will be forced to leave the state, not only because of the tax increases, but because of the onerous environmental and other regulations Democrats are notorious for — hence the accusation of wanting to ruin California.

It all sounds very nice and like a plea for fairness, until you examine the facts. California is a fertile place for small businesses to thrive. Just visit the governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. High tech and clean energy jobs are booming. If anyone is being driven out of business, it's mom and pop retailers, forced to close their doors by the likes of corporate big box retail, who move into an area, offer cheap foreign made products and low wage jobs. These small businesses don't leave the state. They just leave, period. And I don't hear Zelikovsky complaining about that. Why? Could it be because corporate entities donate largely to Republican campaign coffers?

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Nor does Zelikovsky tackle a major culprit in the loss of revenue for schools and services over the past 40 years — Proposition 13, a Republican-backed measure that insured gutting of our schools by severely limiting the amount of revenue taken in through property taxes. Instead, she blames Democrats because they have held both houses of the Legislature for most of those same years. However, she neglects to mention that this is the first time the Democrats held a "supermajority" since 1933. A 2/3 vote is necessary to pass any tax increase and until recently was needed to pass a budget at all.

No, Ms. Zelikovsky, Democrats do not want to ruin California. They want to save it, and according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, that's just what they'll do, turning a $1.9 billion deficit into a projected $9 billion surplus by fiscal year 2017-2018. As stated on their website: "Our projections show that there could be an over $1 billion operating surplus in 2014—15, growing thereafter to an over $9 billion surplus in 2017—18.

[dc [All[/dc] is not gloom and doom for the Golden State after all. And if we tackle the inequities in Proposition 13, especially the ones favoring the largest corporate abusers, the outlook could become all the more rosy.

dotty lemieux

Dotty Lemieux

Published originally in the Marin Independent Journal.

Posted: Monday, 19 November 2012