Gaines Gazette: April 4, 2017
Senator Gaines tours new housing project and meets with Chamber of Commerce members while in Redding.
One of my favorite aspects about serving as your State Senator is when I have the opportunity to travel out in my vast district and meet so many hardworking Californians. I recently spent some time in Shasta County where I was able to learn about the efforts to fight homelessness and hear about all the exciting things happening within the business community.
I toured the Woodlands, a new 55-unit Northern Valley Catholic Social Service housing project that will serve a mix of working and mentally ill tenants in Redding. I applaud these efforts to improve homelessness and assist the mentally ill in Shasta County. I also met with members of the Redding Chamber of Commerce to discuss efforts to improve the business climate and grow Shasta County’s regional economy.
It was a great visit and I look forward to tracking all of the wonderful progress being made in my Senate District!
Introducing Fire Tax Repeal
In my continued efforts to fight against the illegal fire tax, I have introduced Senate Bill 9, a measure to repeal the tax.
The fire tax is illegal and unfair – plain and simple. Many rural property owners already pay local fire agencies for protection so it is clearly double-taxation and it is being dumped on the backs of rural Californians when parts of my district still have a more than 10-percent unemployment rate and families are struggling to make ends meet.
Senate Bill 9 would reverse the annual $152.33 “fee” for fire prevention services charged to rural property owners located in “State Responsibility Areas” (SRA) designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), even though their property taxes already contribute to the service contracts that counties have with CAL FIRE.
The fire tax is imposed on more than 800,000 properties in the state that are within the boundaries of SRA. According to census and CAL FIRE data, my largely rural district includes roughly 20-percent or approximately 160,000 of the properties whose owners are subject to the fee.
The fire tax attempts to sidestep Proposition 26, the initiative passed in 2010 that prevents the Legislature from disguising taxes as “fees” and circumventing constitutional requirements for passing higher taxes. I have been a leading critic of the tax and have introduced numerous pieces of legislation in previous years that attempted to provide relief for rural Californians. I also strongly support the lawsuit filed against the state by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenging the fee on constitutional grounds.
I have fought this illegal tax at every turn and I encourage everyone who is stuck paying this phony fee to get in the arena and fight it too. The answer to fire protection in California is not illegal taxes, but budgets that invest in core government services that protect every citizen in the state – rural, urban and suburban.
Senator Gaines attends memorial service for fallen CHP Officer Lucas Chellew.
It was with great sadness that I presented a Senate Memorial Resolution to the family of fallen California Highway Patrol Officer Lucas Chellew during his “End of Watch” service in Rocklin last month. Officer Chellew tragically lost his life when he collided with another vehicle while involved in a high-speed chase with a fleeing motorcyclist in south Sacramento. Officer Chellew was 31 years old and had been with the CHP for eight years.
It’s not a cliché that these men and women put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. There is great risk in this job but they take it on willingly to serve others. More than 200 CHP officers have died in the line of duty. Every single one is a heartbreaking loss to the tight-knit CHP organization, the community, and the officers’ families. Officer Chellew leaves behind a wife and two young children. God bless Lucas Chellew and his family. He will be forever missed by the many people whose lives he touched.
Recent reports have indicated that Governor Brown is attempting to side-step the Gann Limit, which restricts California’s government spending to the 1978-79 level and only allows it to grow adjusted for inflation and population. Under the Gann Limit, state revenues above the voter-approved limit are required to be refunded to taxpayers.
From the same governor who brought you the illegal fire tax now comes a plan to blow the top off California’s spending cap and leave taxpayers on the hook for tens of billions in extra taxes. It’s a bad idea that fractures the faith between citizens and government and spells trouble for California’s fiscal future.
It’s hard to believe the state even has an expenditure limit and that 30 years ago, during a boon year for tax revenues, the state issued more than one billion dollars in rebates to relieved taxpayers who finally had some protection from an insatiable Sacramento. This would create a wave of panic attacks in today’s money-hungry capitol.
Although the Gann Limit has since been watered down, it’s still the law designed to protect taxpayers. According to a recent report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, Governor Brown’s new budget proposes taking $22 billion off the Gann Limit books this year. That money would not be accounted for as state spending or as local spending, it would just “disappear.” This allows the Governor to trick his way around the spending cap.
I have a novel idea: Live up to the law. If taxpayers deserve rebates, give them rebates. Don’t twist and distort or outright ignore the law just because it lets taxpayers keep more of their money. They earned it in the first place. It’s a sad commentary on our state, but when it comes to raising your taxes, rules seem made to be broken.
California’s Record Snowpack
The Department of Water Resources conducted their March snow survey, which showed that statewide, the snowpack holds 45.5 inches of snow water equivalent, or 185 percent of the March 1 average (24.6 inches). The central and southern regions in the Sierra Nevada are close to reaching the more than 30-year record for snowpack statewide.
We are on track to have one of the wettest winters in California’s recorded history, and yet the California State Water Resources Control Board decided to extend the state’s emergency drought regulations. This doesn’t make sense. We are flush with water and yet urban water districts will be subject to an additional 270 days of consumption reports, ‘stress tests,’ and water-use cuts.
What’s worse is that all this water highlights the staggering lack of foresight and political will on the part of politicians who have neglected to build enough water storage to keep up with our growing population. The state needs to waive every rule, expend every dollar it has to get Sites Reservoir built and complete other surface storage projects so we can bank more of this water instead of letting it run out into the sea.
April Tax Deadline Is Upon Us!
Tax Day comes late in 2017! Due to April 15 falling on a Saturday and Washington D.C.’s Emancipation Day holiday being observed on Monday April 17, Tax Day is set for Tuesday April 18 this year.
Those extra few days are nice, but let’s face it – tax preparation is still a chore. And for some it can be a real struggle. I wanted to provide you with some helpful information as you work your way through the tax preparation process.
Taxpayers can contact the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) directly by:
Automated Telephone Service: 800-338-0505
General Telephone Service: 800-852-5711
To email, taxpayers can select the “Contact Us” tab at the www.ftb.ca.gov.
Online: At www.ftb.ca.gov, taxpayers can:
- File their taxes using free or fee-based options including ReadyReturn and CalFile.
- Pay their taxes using Web Pay or credit card.
- Link to additional online services.
- Access their tax information including:
- Refund status
- Payments or account balance due
- California wage and withholding information
In person: Taxpayers can visit one of three Northern California field offices for walk-in service:
- Oakland – 1515 Clay Street, Suite 305
- Sacramento – 3321 Power Inn Road, Suite 250
- San Francisco – 121 Spear Street, Suite 400
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE) programs provide free assistance to individuals with limited income and/or over the age of 60 who need help in completing simple federal and state income tax returns. Assistance is generally available now through April 15. For more information including site locations, go to www.ftb.ca.gov and search for VITA.
In the event you are unable to resolve your issues through normal channels, please contact FTB’s Executive and Advocate Services directly by:
Executive and Advocate Services
Franchise Tax Board
P.O. Box 157
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-0157
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BOE Supports Manufacturing Exemption Bill
I’m proud to report that the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) has voted unanimously to support my Senate Bill 13, a measure that would provide much-needed tax relief to the manufacturing, research and development, agricultural and software industries by expanding an existing sales and use tax exemption.
Businesses should be rewarded for their contributions to our state, not continually penalized at every turn. I’m going to let them keep more of their money so they can reinvest it back into their businesses, create more jobs and boost the economy, instead of handing it over to the government.
Existing law allows manufacturers and research and development companies a sales and use tax exemption for their qualifying tangible personal property purchases up to $200 million a year. This includes property such as machinery and equipment used for manufacturing activities. Property that is considered to have a useful life of less than one year is excluded.
Senate Bill 13 seeks to define property as having a useful life of one or more years if the property includes a warranty for one or more years. It will also expand the definition of businesses eligible to receive this exemption by including software publishers and others who conduct agricultural business activities. Finally, it will increase the annual property purchase limit from $200 to $500 million a year.
I introduced this bill on the heels of recent reports indicating that the existing tax exemption has been severely underutilized. Since its inception on July 1, 2014 through September 30, 2016, businesses utilizing the exemption were only 21 percent of the original estimates made by the Department of Finance and Board of Equalization.
“For many manufacturers, it’s become increasingly difficult to do business in California,” said Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner. “Expanding this underutilized exemption to include more industries would be a much-welcomed boost for taxpayers, our job market and the economy.”
California Ag Day
Senator Gaines enjoys California Ag Day at the State Capitol
I enjoyed celebrating California Ag Day at the Capitol last month. I got to visit with some of the state’s amazing farmers, ranchers and Future Farmers of America members. They all play such a vital role in California's economy!