Gaines Gazette: April 2, 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Out & About In The 1st Senate District

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 some of the exciting things happening in the region.

I met with Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko and his K9 team to discuss my Senate Bill 911, which would make it a mandatory felony for intentionally killing or inflicting serious injury to a police dog or police horse in the line of duty. I addressed the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, provided an update on what’s taking place at the Capitol, and fielded questions. My visit also included a discussion with the Northern Business Associates of Redding regarding their 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!

Senator Gaines discusses his Police Dog Protection Act with Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, Shasta County Sheriff's Deputy Cary Erickson & K9 Jax.
Senator Gaines discusses his Police Dog Protection Act with Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputy Cary Erickson & K9 Jax.

Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to retired staffer Dave Meurer during Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to retired staffer Dave Meurer during Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Senator Gaines receives award from LaRue Rocha, founder of the Northern Business Associates of Redding.
Senator Gaines receives award from LaRue Rocha, founder of the Northern Business Associates of Redding.

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Take My Survey!

Survey Graphic.

California’s state and local governments collect about $250 billion in taxes every year, amounting to more than $6,000 per Californian.

California’s sales tax is the highest in the nation. Gas taxes are in the top five. California has the highest personal income tax bracket in the country. The Golden State’s business tax climate ranks as third-worst.

California families and small businesses pay these taxes with the expectation that the government will not waste them, but will be held accountable and spend their hard-earned dollars wisely, prudently, and on their intended use.

However, sometimes in Sacramento, when money runs short, solutions to the problem include borrowing it from somewhere else or increasing taxes to pay for the shortfall. Here are just a few examples:

Vehicle Weight Fees – A report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) showed that California is currently diverting a billion dollars in weight fees every year away from roads and into the general fund where it is being spent on non-road related projects. To backfill that loss, motorists are now being charged an additional 12¢ per gallon of gasoline and 20¢ per gallon of diesel. Those taxes will go even higher starting in 2021. Annual vehicle registration fees are also increasing by as much as $175 per vehicle.

CalTrans – Another LAO report showed that the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) was recently overstaffed by 1,500 people, wasting taxpayers $500 million every year.

High-Speed Rail – Originally projected to cost $33 billion, the High-Speed Rail is now expected to run taxpayers more than $77 billion with an opening date delayed by at least four years. It is the first transportation system to run entirely on taxpayer money.

Senate Bill 1231 would help provide taxpayers some relief. California is currently sitting on a budget surplus of an additional, unexpected $6 billion. Senate Bill 1231 proposes taking the state’s $6 billion surplus and returning it to the taxpayers. Every Californian who filed taxes for 2016 would get their share of that surplus back in a refund check from the government that could amount to hundreds of dollars per taxpayer.

It is their money and it’s the government’s obligation to return it.

What do you think? Please take a moment to complete this brief survey. If you have any questions or need additional information, please call my Constituent Service Center in Granite Bay at (916) 771-5840 or in Redding at (530) 224-7001.

I appreciate your participation!

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Melanie Fowle Honored As Woman Of The Year

Senator Gaines recognizes Melanie Fowle as the 1st Senate District 2018 Woman of the Year.
Senator Gaines recognizes Melanie Fowle as the 1st Senate District 2018 Woman of the Year.

Every year, each California legislator selects a Woman of the Year from their district as part of a celebration of California’s extraordinary women. I proudly recognized Melanie Fowle of Siskiyou County as the 1st Senate District 2018 Woman of the Year.

Melanie has given of her time and resources to enhance the quality of life for those in Siskiyou County and I deeply appreciate her hard work to make California a better place. She embodies the meaning of service to her fellow citizens and she is most deserving of this honor.

Melanie, a native of Siskiyou County, has made exemplary contributions throughout her career as an educator of four decades, dedicated mentor of California Future Farmers of America and 4-H, savvy businesswoman, and nationally-recognized agricultural leader. Whether working the ranch with her family, or leading the California and National CattleWomen organizations, Melanie has immeasurably bettered our community and touched countless lives.

Melanie will be adding the 1st Senate District 2018 Woman of the Year award to her long list of special recognitions, including the 2016 Siskiyou County CattleWoman of the Year, the Cow Palace Cattle Queen of the Year, the 2012 American National CattleWomen Educator of the Year, and was granted the 2003 Star Counselor Award from the California Future Farmers of America Association. She has also been recognized as the California U.S. History Teacher of the Year.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this wonderful award from Senator Gaines,” said Melanie. “I have truly enjoyed every minute of my involvement and dedication within the community and am appreciative of this recognition.”

The first Woman of the Year recognition was held in 1987 to help commemorate Women’s History Month. The award has become an annual Capitol tradition to salute women who have done outstanding community service. Honorees are presented with a framed certificate from the Legislature recognizing their contributions.

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Committee Hearing On Impacts Of The Gas Tax

Last month, the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing held an informational hearing regarding the impacts of Senate Bill 1, the $52 billion transportation proposal that imposes permanent new gas taxes and user fees on motorists. I wanted to share with you the following comments I made during the hearing.

“I did not support SB 1 and am sad that the Assembly Republican plan, which accomplished many of the same goals, but without raising taxes, was never even given a committee hearing.

“I think on every issue, but especially issues that are going to pull tens of billions of dollars out of taxpayer pockets, it’s important that multiple solutions are discussed, not simply accepting that we need higher taxes right away and then simply debating how high those taxes will be and who pays them.

“This new gas tax will be a huge burden on my district, which is poor and where people in the rural areas drive vast distances all the time. It will hurt commuters in my urban areas. It will hurt businesses and families. But now it’s the law, and we owe it to those families who will bear the brunt of this to get it right, to not waste a single penny.

“So as we look at the unfolding of SB 1, let’s vow to maintain vigorous oversight of CalTrans, whose overstaffing was estimated to cost the state $500 million a year several years ago. That’s unacceptable.

“California is spending about 2.5 times more to build roads than the national average. I think the people deserve a more cost-effective road construction regimen here for the SB 1 money they are forced to pay. We need to attack those higher costs so Californians are getting value for their money.

“I understand that rail transit is desirable for some locations, but in my largely rural district it’s never going to make any sense, yet their gas taxes are going to pay for billions in rail expansion. That is tough to justify to my district, to people who are scraping to get by, that they are going to be paying for rail in wealthy urban areas that they will ever use.

“The active transportation plan and complete streets are also not meaningful in most of my district. My constituents aren’t complaining about a lack of sidewalks or bike lanes. They want the potholes fixed and bumps knocked down. A sidewalk in these parts of the state would be unnecessary and wasteful. Yet, my constituents‘ gas taxes are going to pay for them elsewhere.

“SB 1 was supposedly a response to a crisis in our roads. Not in our parks, or sidewalks, or rail systems. Let’s do all we can to repair and expand our road system, for fairness, and also to reflect that 95 percent of travel is road travel.”

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California Ag Day

Senator Gaines visits with members of Future Farmers of America during California Ag Day at the Capitol.
Senator Gaines visits with members of Future Farmers of America during California Ag Day at the Capitol.

I enjoyed celebrating California Ag Day at the Capitol! 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!

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Applauding “Sanctuary State” Lawsuit

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has filed a lawsuit against the state of California for violating the Constitution and interfering with the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Our state’s number one job is to protect the safety of the citizens who reside here legally. Unfortunately, current laws have turned California into a “sanctuary state,” allowing the protection and harboring of illegal alien criminals.

We are not talking about immigrants here, but illegal immigrants, who have flouted our laws and jumped ahead of the law abiding millions abroad who want to come to the United States but respect its laws enough to obey them.

Liberal Democrats have made a mockery of the rule of law. They have attacked the very foundations of the country. If we don’t control our borders, we cease to be a nation.

I am encouraged the federal government is doing something to rein in California’s out-of-control policies, manage our border and restore American sovereignty. I’m joining with them by introducing Senate Bill 1219, a bill that would overturn California’s ridiculous, “sanctuary state” status.

We cannot afford to lose another Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by an illegal alien who crossed into the United States at least five times and finally settled in San Francisco because he knew that ’sanctuary city‘ would protect him from immigration enforcement.

Our citizens deserve better.

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April Tax Deadline Is Upon Us!

Tax Day Graphic

This year, Tax Day falls on Tuesday, April 17, and 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:

Telephone: 800-883-5910
Fax: 916-843-6022
Email: Taxpayer_Advocate@ftb.ca.gov
Mail:

Executive and Advocate Services
Franchise Tax Board
P.O. Box 157
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-0157

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2018 Marks Last Year Of FUTA Tax

Good news! 2018 is the last year California businesses will have to pay for loans the state took out to cover unemployment benefits during the Great Recession of 2009.

During the recession, California didn’t have enough money to pay all the unemployment claims it approved, so the state borrowed $10 billion from the federal government. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) requires businesses to pay for loans issued to a state if the state does not pay it back on time. Payments to the federal government came due in 2011. Governor Brown paid back the interest on the loan, but left businesses to do the heavy lifting and pay off the principal.

Any California business open since 2011 was required to pay a total of $588 per employee in extra federal taxes. By the end of this year, California employers will have repaid $9.6 billion. No other state has forced businesses to pay such a high amount in extra taxes.

For many California businesses, the FUTA tax has taken away their ability to hire more people, pay bonuses, or upgrade equipment. Add that to the minimum wage increases and the ongoing maze of onerous regulations, it’s a wonder any business is able to stay afloat in this state.

Governor Brown should have made paying off this debt a larger priority. Thankfully, this is the last year California businesses will be strapped with this extra bill.

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Celebrating The Junior Zebras

Senator Gaines celebrates national cheer champs, the Junior Zebras, at the State Capitol.
Senator Gaines celebrates national cheer champs, the Junior Zebras, at the State Capitol.

It was great having the Junior Zebras from Lincoln at the State Capitol to recognize their successful 2017-18 cheerleading season. They sent five teams to the 2018 JAMZ Youth Nationals in Las Vegas where all teams placed and three brought home national titles. Congratulations to these dedicated cheer athletes!

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