I was so appalled to learn that California National Guard veterans were being forced to repay the federal government enlistment bonuses from a decade ago, that I sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown requesting that he take action in working with California’s legislative delegation in Washington to advocate on their behalf. Several days later, I was relieved when Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ordered the Pentagon to suspend efforts to claw back the enlistment bonuses.
Unfortunately, this fiasco is not yet over for some of the California National Guard members. Tax return issues will inevitably be a problem and I sent the following letter to Franchise Tax Board Executive Officer Selvi Stanislaus requesting that she create a dedicated task force to help sort things out.
Dear Executive Officer Stanislaus,
I am writing to ask you to make every possible effort to assist a group of California veterans who are being subjected to an unbelievable injustice.
California National Guard members have been ordered to repay enlistment bonuses they received as a condition for enlisting or reenlisting in the Guard during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the nation was desperate for combat soldiers to carry out its missions.
I am fighting to ensure that these brave veterans get the justice they deserve and are honored for their service to this country.
Unfortunately, many of these soldiers have already had to repay some or all of their bonuses, which would also trigger the need to file amended tax returns. In the future, many of these same soldiers will likely have those bonuses reinstated partially or in full, and this will again trigger the need to amend their tax returns. The resolution of this bonus fiasco will likely lead to great tax complexity for these soldiers.
I am calling on you to create a special task force to aid these California National Guard veterans who will need to file amended tax returns resulting from the resolution of this bonus scandal.
I want these veterans to have Franchise Tax Board staff specifically dedicated to their plight so they are not mired in bureaucracy when trying to resolve their tax status.
Thank you in advance for working with these service men and women to ensure our veterans are being honored for their service and not suffering from this betrayal at the hands of the Pentagon.
Senator, 1st District
Are you or someone you know a member of the California National Guard who received one of these enlistment bonuses in question? Do you live in my Senate District? As your State Senator, one of the most important services I provide is assisting you when you are having trouble cutting through the red tape of government. Please contact me at Senator.Gaines@senate.ca.gov or call (916) 933-7213 to see how I can help.
Salute To Veterans
As Americans around the country pause next week to honor those who have bravely served our nation, we all should remember that Veterans Day is not just another day to display the American flag. It is a day that has special meaning to everyone in this nation, not just those who proudly wore the uniform of our country.
Veterans Day may just be the most important secular holiday we recognize each year. For without the sacrifices made by every man and woman who has protected our country, we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that are the hallmark of this great nation.
Veterans Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to all of those individuals who have served or are currently serving in the military, often in the face of extreme danger around the world. They demonstrate extraordinary courage and dedication while they honor America and its people.
To all of you who served, I salute you and wish God’s blessings upon you.
Disappointed In Signing Of Senate Bill 1146
Governor Brown recently signed into law Senate Bill 1146 (Lara), a bill that discriminates against all religious-based universities and infringes their ability to ensure faith-based practices are upheld on campus, undermining the concrete right of religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment.
We are heading towards a one belief system, and anyone who strays from that state-sponsored orthodoxy gets punished. This bill is a step towards putting a scarlet letter on the chest of all religious institutions.
The First Amendment is clear: Christian and other religious institutions should be free to practice their faith without state interference. This is phase one of a radical strategy to tear down religious institutions. First it’s to identify the target, isolate it, then demonize it. This bill could have been worse, but as part of a larger strategy to eliminate religion, it’s alarming.
California prides itself on multiculturalism, but it seems like Christians are one culture the ruling elites fear and target more than any other. We are blessed to live in a free nation and we should be able to respect beliefs that differ from our own.
Touring Shasta Venture Hub
Senator Gaines (middle) visits with Jake Mangas, President and CEO of the Redding Chamber of Commerce (left) and Tony Giovaniello, President of the Shasta County Economic Development Corporation (right).
The Shasta Venture Hub is a startup incubator and co-working space located in Redding specifically designed for entrepreneurs, developers, inventors, makers and creatives. I had the opportunity to tour the space during a recent visit to Shasta County and met with folks from tech startup, The Cloud Wise Academy, as well as the Shasta Economic Development Council and the Redding Chamber of Commerce. I was impressed to learn about all of the efforts being made to improve the business climate and to grow Shasta County’s regional economy.
During my visit to Redding, I also met with Jonathan Anderson of the Good News Rescue Mission and toured the emergency room at Shasta Regional Medical Center to learn about mental health services.
Earning Top Grades For Taxpayers & Small Businesses
I am proud to report that I have earned “A” grades on two major 2016 Legislative Report Cards.
For the 10th year in a row, I scored an “A” on the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s Legislative Report Card. I also received a perfect score from the National Federation of Independent Business/California (NFIB/CA) for their 2016 Legislative Voting Record.
Both organizations have a long history of advocating for taxpayers and small businesses and as a small business owner myself and a legislator, I am honored to stand with them in this fight. California still has the 48th worst tax climate in the country. We should be providing incentives for entrepreneurs to start their businesses here and create private sector jobs, not stifling them with onerous taxes and burdensome regulations.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s annual legislative report card is designed to help Californians gauge how their state representatives are actually performing on taxpayer-related issues both positive and negative. For the 2016 legislative season, 22 bills were used to evaluate and grade voting records.
The NFIB/CA ’s annual legislative report card informs Californians on how their state representatives voted to support small business. NFIB/CA assessed legislators on 12 bills vital to the health of small business in California during the 2016 legislative session.
I remain committed to making sure that Sacramento’s years of irresponsible spending aren’t thrown on the backs of hard-working taxpayers and small business owners. I will continue to push for lower taxes and simpler, less burdensome regulations to let employers know that California is open for business in order to get our economy back on track and to strengthen our communities.
To view the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s legislative report card, visit:
To view the NFIB/CA ’s legislative report card, visit:
November Is National Diabetes Awareness Month
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This is a cause that hits close to home as my youngest daughter is living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas loses the ability to produce insulin - a hormone essential to digestion. More than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults in the United States receive a diagnosis annually. The good news is that there are ways to take charge of your type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a longer, healthier life.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) holds more than 200 walks nationally every year, and recently held one at the State Capitol. These walks connect an extensive community of families, volunteers, and donors who are committed to fighting this serious disease. For more information, visit http://www.jdrf.org/.
California’s Business Climate & Verizon Closure
It was recently announced that the Verizon customer service center in Rancho Cordova would be closing its doors and taking with it 1,000 jobs.
Who can be surprised by this? California is doing everything it can to drive businesses out of the state. Sky-high workers compensation costs, painful energy costs driven by unchecked environmentalism, and now a minimum wage shooting up by 50-percent in the next few years, it’s little wonder that Verizon is packing up.
A study this year showed 9,000 California businesses had relocated or expanded out of state recently. Sacramento recently lost Campbell’s, Waste Connections, and now Verizon. Those are more than statistics and stories; each one is a tragedy for families who are paying the price for California’s anti-business policies.
Silicon Valley legend Hewlett Packard also announced that it would be laying off 4,000 employees. How legislators can push for the expensive and useless high speed rail or keep pushing for ever higher taxes while workers are being pink-slipped by the thousands is amazing to me and needs to stop. Lower taxes and smarter regulations would show businesses that California is not a place to leave, but a place to grow and invest. I’d rather see that than Verizon’s tail lights.
Don’t Forget To Vote November 8
On Tuesday, November 8, Californians will again have the opportunity to make their voices heard. I encourage every eligible Californian to participate in this election for the health and future of our democracy. Visit your local polling station before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day to make your vote count!