Tax day, which fell on April 18 this year, is a day most of us dread. Millions of Americans submitted their tax returns – along with their hard-earned money – thinking their tax bill is paid. But they are wrong. Nationally, Americans actually have to work five more days this year to reach Tax Freedom Day – the day when all taxes assessed by government are paid and we can start keeping the money we earn.
On April 23 – Tax Freedom Day – Americans collectively have earned enough money to pay the nation’s total tax bill for the year. In 2017, Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of nearly $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of the national income. That’s more than Americans will spend for housing, food and clothing combined.
In California, we must work eight days longer to reach Tax Freedom Day because of our higher state and local taxes. This year, our tax burden won’t be paid until May 1.
Californians bear one of the highest tax burdens in the country. Those taxes, added to the high cost of housing, food and transportation, strain the budgets of many Californians to the breaking point. Compared to other states, California's Tax Freedom Day is one of the latest in the nation. Only Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have later dates.
Each of us will work 121 days – almost a third of the year – to pay all of the taxes currently assessed by federal, state and local governments. Despite this burden, state and local lawmakers are continuing to push for new taxes and fees that will take even more money from our pockets and add more days that we work for the government instead of ourselves. Where do we draw the line?
Seeking Video Contest Entries!
I am excited to announce that I’m hosting a video contest and am seeking entries from high school students and college undergraduates that reside in the 1st Senate District. The short, entertaining and creative videos will focus on the theme “How American Exceptionalism Made California Golden.”
This is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate their video directing and producing skills and have their work displayed on my website. This contest celebrates the creativity and originality of our future leaders and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
Participants must create a two-to five-minute video using the theme “How American Exceptionalism Made California Golden.” The videos can feature live people, stills, animation – whatever best conveys the message. The contest encourages students to reflect on our state’s history and ponder what’s in store for the future.
Videos can be submitted now through May 26, 2017. Two winners – one high school and one college – living in or attending school within the 1st Senate District will be selected by Senator Gaines and will each receive a $300 cash prize and be invited to the State Capitol in Sacramento for a meeting with Senator Gaines and a VIP tour of the historic building. The winning videos will also be posted to Senator Gaines’ website.
All details about the contest, including the rules and entry form are available here.
Effort To Repeal The Gas Tax
I was so frustrated with the recent passage of Senate Bill 1, the transportation proposal that imposes $52 billion in permanent new gas taxes over the next decade and user fees on motorists, and I knew something had to be done about it.
I will be exploring every possible avenue to repeal the gas tax, whether it’s through legislation, an initiative to change or eliminate other gas taxes, or other courses of action. I am going to fight to overturn this unfair and regressive tax and get some justice for the California families and businesses that are getting nickeled and dimed to death.
The Governor has compared fixing our roads with the urgency of fixing a leaky roof. Well guess what Governor Brown, Californians have already paid to fix the roof but the repairs have not been made and we’re all wondering why we’re left paying for the same service twice.
And how are the people supposed to believe that this money will actually go to transportation? Currently, the state is diverting a billion dollars in weight fees away from roads every year. According to a recent Legislative Analyst’s Office report, CalTrans is overstaffed by 3,500 people wasting $500 million of road money every year. Why would anyone believe that this new tax isn’t a bait and switch sham where the funds won’t be diverted to pay for pet projects like the High Speed Rail boondoggle?
We already have some of the highest gas taxes and worst roads in the country. For years we’ve starved transportation when we’ve had many billions in surplus, even though it was supposedly a ‘system in crisis.’ Before we take a single penny from Californians in new taxes, it is our duty to make 100-percent certain that we are spending the money we already collect exclusively on road repair and construction. Senate Bill 1 failed to do that and I’m going to make every attempt to make it right.
Kool April Nights
Ron Lim stands next to his 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner, winner of the “Senator Trophy” at Kool April Nites in Redding.
I love cars, so when my office had the opportunity to award the “Senator Trophy” during the 28th Annual Kool April Nites car show in Redding, we could not pass it up. It was our pleasure to award the “Senator Trophy” to Ron Lim for his pink 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner. It represents so much of what Kool April Nites is about ― not only saving and restoring vintage cars, but in many cases improving on the original. Special thanks to the event coordinators for allowing us to be a part of the fun!
Voted No On Sanctuary State Bill
Senate Bill 54 (D-de León), a bill that would turn California into a “sanctuary state,” passed out of the Senate last month without my support.
I want to know what other crimes California is going to ignore?
Senate Bill 54 would quickly transform California into a giant magnet pulling every illegal alien criminal in the country to our state. It would teach a horrible lesson to our children that they need to be protected from law enforcement, not by it.
Let us remember that we are not talking about immigrants here, but illegal immigrants, who have flouted our laws, jumped ahead of the law abiding millions abroad who want to come to the United States, but respect its laws enough to obey them.
This bill makes a mockery of the rule of law. It attacks the very foundations of the country. If we don’t control our borders, we cease to be a nation.
I hope that the federal government, under our new president, can finally control our border and restore American sovereignty.
Bill To Help Businesses Save Money Passes Committee
My Senate Bill 13, which will provide much-needed tax relief to the manufacturing, research and development, and agricultural industries by expanding an existing sales and use tax exemption, passed out of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance.
I was pleased to have the Committee’s unanimous support on this important bill that will ensure California businesses capitalize on available tax breaks. 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.
Senate Bill 13 seeks to expand the definition of businesses eligible to receive this exemption by including agricultural business activities. It will also expand the definition of a useful life for qualifying tangible personal property purchases.
I introduced this bill on the heels of recent reports indicating that the existing tax exemption has been severely underutilized.
Wildfire Awareness Week
Each year California highlights the importance of wildfire prevention and preparedness by declaring the first full week of May as “Wildfire Awareness Week.” Last year, California suffered through 6,986 wildfires that burned an area of 565,070 acres. Those fires destroyed huge areas of forests, grass lands, and structures, some in my Senate District.
Approximately 95 percent of all wildfires are sparked by people, which means almost all wildfires are preventable. Here are some basic ways to stop a wildfire before it starts:
- Use powered equipment before 10 a.m. and never on hot and windy days.
- Do not use a lawn mower or weed trimmer with a metal blade to clear dead or dying grass.
- Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained with nothing dragging on the ground like trailer chains.
- Don’t burn campfires, debris, or rubbish unless you stay by the fire and have adequate means to extinguish it immediately.
- Always Follow “No Burn” orders.
CAL FIRE has launched a new Ready for Wildfire app that provides step-by-step checklists for homeowners to track their progress while creating Defensible Space, hardening their homes with fire-resistant construction, assembling an emergency supply kit and creating a family communication and evacuation plan. It also provides critical wildfire alerts for your area. To download the app, visit the App Store or the Google Play Store – search for CAL FIRE and install.
For more information visit ReadyForWildfire.org.
We’ve moved our El Dorado Hills district office to Granite Bay! Below please find the office contact information.
4080 Cavitt Stallman Road, Suite 100A
Granite Bay, CA 95746
Phone: (916) 771-5840
Fax: (916) 771-5845
Please stop by and visit our new location if you have any legislative or state concerns. My staff and I look forward to welcoming you to our new space!
Taxpayer Protection Bill Passes Committee
Last month, the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance unanimously support my Senate Bill 11, a measure that would immediately and proactively waive penalties and interest for taxpayers when a California Board of Equalization (BOE) system failure prevents them from making tax payments on time. Senate Bill 11 is simple and fair, two elements of good governance that are too often missing in California. I look forward to the bill’s continued support as it makes its way through the legislative process.
Under existing law, tax payments made after the filing deadline are subject to interest and penalty. The BOE is currently authorized to waive any penalties or interest if the late payment is due to a disaster or BOE error, however, it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to file paperwork and petition for a refund.
Senate Bill 11 comes on the heels of four separate BOE computer system failures over the past year, two of which occurred during peak filing deadlines leaving taxpayers unable to pay their tax bills on time.
The bill will now head to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
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Meeting With Credit Unions
Senator Gaines visits with the California Credit Union Association during their Legislative Day.
Thanks to the California Credit Union Association for visiting with me during their Legislative Day at the Capitol and sharing the issues that affect financial institutions the most. I look forward to our continued dialogue!