Gaines Gazette: March 1, 2018

Friday, March 2, 2018

Board of Equalization Defeats Gas Tax Increase

This week, the California Board of Equalization (BOE) voted against a recommendation to increase California’s gas excise tax by $0.04 a gallon.

This is a major victory for California taxpayers. With a budget surplus in the billions and the new gas tax that has already increased the price of gasoline by $0.12 a gallon, I see no reason why we need to tack on another $0.04 tax, with no guarantee that the money will go to fixing or maintaining our roads. We cannot continue to nickel and dime Californians to death.

Every spring, the BOE meets to calculate a new gasoline excise tax based on a number of factors. Prior to their meeting, BOE staff recommended a $0.04 per gallon excise tax increase that would take effect this July. In an interesting turn in events, the BOE vote resulted in a 2-2 tie that prevented the increase from passing.

We’re already paying the second-highest gas prices in the nation. It’s like there is a contest to see how expensive we can make staple goods and how unlivable we can make this state for the poor and middle class. We aren’t taxing champagne and caviar. Transportation is a basic need to live and work and raise a family. I applaud the members of the BOE for standing up for what’s right and giving taxpayers a break for once.

Last spring, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1, the $5.2 billion annual transportation tax proposal and the largest gas tax increase in California’s history. Under the new bill, last fall, motorists began paying an additional $0.12 per gallon in gasoline excise tax.

Although the BOE was able to defeat this round of excise tax increases, Senate Bill 1 requires a 5.6 cent per gallon excise tax increase in July 2019. And beginning in 2021, the excise tax will be annually adjusted according to the Consumer Price Index.

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Bill to Help Families Save For College

I recently introduced Senate Bill 1218, legislation that will help families save money for college by making contributions to 529 plans tax deductible in California.

The cost to send kids to college has skyrocketed over the past several decades. Students who work, receive scholarships and/or financial aid, and get help from their parents still manage to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars racked up in student loans. My hope is that by allowing the ability to deduct 529 contributions, it will increase savings and decrease the amount needed in student loans.

A 529 savings plan is an investment account meant for college tuition and other higher-education costs. The plans are usually sponsored by states and offer various benefits. Many states give the account owner full or partial state income tax deductions for their contributions to the state’s 529 plans. California is currently one of only nine states that do not offer a state income tax deduction or tax credit for contributions to the state’s 529 college savings plan.

Senate Bill 1218 will make contributions to 529 plans of up to $20,000 per year tax deductible in California. This limit will be adjusted each year for inflation.

For reference, tuition and related costs (books, living expenses, etc.) at both the University of California and California State University systems have tripled over the last 15 years. The average cost for one year at a California State University is approximately $25,000. The average cost for one year at a University of California is nearly $35,000.

To attend the private University of Southern California, tuition alone will cost more than $50,000 per year. Data from The Institute for College Access & Success shows that the average borrower from California has $22,191 worth of student loan debt that still needs to be paid.

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NorCal Heroes Day & Day of Remembrance

Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to representatives from the Rough and Ready Fire Department.
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to representatives from the Rough and Ready Fire Department.

Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to representatives from the Folsom Fire Department.
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to representatives from the Folsom Fire Department.

Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to representatives from Bayside Church.
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to representatives from Bayside Church.

I was honored to participate in the NorCal Heroes Day & Day of Remembrance ceremony recognizing those who were instrumental in the response and recovery of the devastating Northern California wildfires.

First responders, community leaders and nonprofit organizations that stepped up and supported our communities during the devastating October firestorm were honored at a special ceremony on the Senate floor of the State Capitol. I presented Senate Resolutions to Bayside Church, the Folsom Fire Department and the Rough and Ready Fire Department as a small token of our tremendous gratitude.

These destructive and deadly fires, including the Lobo Fire in Nevada County where 21 homes were destroyed, would have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the brave efforts of thousands of first responders, neighbors and community organizations who answered the call in our greatest time in need. We cannot thank them enough.

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Folsom Bulldogs

Senator Gaines welcomes the Folsom Bulldogs to the State Capitol.
Senator Gaines welcomes the Folsom Bulldogs to the State Capitol.

The Folsom High School football team came for a visit to the State Capitol. The "Bulldogs" along with coaching and training staff completed an outstanding season. They finished 16-0 and claimed the CIF Division I-AA State Championship title in December. It is their third state title since 2010. This is a fantastic achievement and I am so proud of each and every one of them. I wish them the best of luck next season and am certain they will go on to many more victories!

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Rocklin’s 125th Birthday!

Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution marking the 125th anniversary to Rocklin Mayor Ken Broadway.
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution marking the 125th anniversary to Rocklin Mayor Ken Broadway.

The City of Rocklin celebrated its 125th birthday and I got to go to the party! The city-wide celebration included live music, food trucks, historic displays and fun activities for the entire family. I also presented a Senate Resolution marking the historic occasion.

When Rocklin was officially signed into existence on February 24, 1893, the city was home to about 1,000 people. Today, Rocklin is one of the fastest growing cities in California, with a population of nearly 65,000. This does not surprise me as Rocklin is a wonderful place with tremendous people, excellent schools, beautiful parks and thriving businesses. Happy 125th birthday!

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Best of Orangevale 2017

Senator Gaines and former Assemblywoman Beth Gaines attend Best of Orangevale 2017 event.
Senator Gaines and former Assemblywoman Beth Gaines attend Best of Orangevale 2017 event.

Thanks to the Orangevale Chamber of Commerce, Orangevale View and the Orangevale Recreation & Park District for hosting the Best of Orangevale 2017 event. It was a great evening shining a spotlight on some of Orangevale’s amazing small businesses!

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Opioid Overdose Death Awareness Week

I have introduced Senate Resolution 82, which designates the first week in March (March 5-9, 2018) as Opioid Overdose Death Awareness Week.

Did you know California ranks No. 1 in number of drug-overdose deaths – more than 4,600 victims in 2015? These deaths were primarily caused by opioids. According to Dr. Kelly Pfeifer at the California Health Care Foundation in Oakland, “We prescribe enough opioids every year to kill every Californian more than twice.”

This is unacceptable. SR 82 aims to recognize this public health crisis, raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who were lost due to drug overdose.

If you or a loved one are battling opioid addiction and are in search of help, click here for information on California’s Narcotic Treatment Programs, which provide opioid medication assisted treatment, detoxification and/or maintenance treatment services which include medical evaluations and rehabilitative services.

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Future Farmers of America

Senator Gaines welcomes FFA members to the State Capitol.
Senator Gaines welcomes FFA members to the State Capitol.

Every year, students from the California Association of Future Farmers of America (FFA) visit the Capitol for their Sacramento Leadership Experience Conference. FFA is a student organization that promotes excellence in agricultural education and provides agricultural leadership development opportunities. In addition, FFA encourages teamwork, good citizenship, productivity, self-esteem and leadership.

It was my pleasure to visit with FFA students from the 1st Senate District and present them with a Senate Resolution during the opening ceremony of their mock legislative session at the Capitol.

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CA Community Colleges Help Students Follow Dreams

Did you know that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require training beyond high school? While a high school diploma is one milestone on the path to a rewarding career, most jobs of the future will require training beyond high school.

Career Education programs are the smart, affordable and accessible way to get the practical skills needed to land a good-paying job and a meaningful career. With 114 campuses throughout the state, California Community Colleges offer more than 200 practical, hands-on training programs in new and growing fields, including: Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Biotechnology, Clean Energy, Cybersecurity, Construction, Global Trade, Health, and many more! California Community Colleges have instructors with real world experience in these industries.

Visit here to learn more.

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Student Video Contest Winner

Senator Gaines gives Lena Tang and Mia Anderson a tour of the State Capitol.
Senator Gaines gives Lena Tang and Mia Anderson a tour of the State Capitol.

Thank you to those of you who submitted entries to my fall student video contest. I’m happy to announce that Lena Tang and Mia Anderson from Whitney High School in Rocklin were selected as the winners!

The contest called for students residing in the 1st Senate District to create a short, entertaining and creative video focusing on the theme “The Bill of Rights & You.” Lena and Mia choose the First Amendment within the Bill of Rights and created an engaging video illustrating how it’s benefitted them.

They demonstrated excellent video directing and producing skills and it was great celebrating the creativity and originality of these future leaders. Lena and Mia received a cash prize and met with me at the State Capitol for a VIP tour of the historic building.

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Beware of IRS Tax Refund Scam

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into real taxpayer bank accounts. The crooks then use various tactics to con taxpayers into turning over the funds. It’s a new twist on an old scam.

Thieves use phishing and other schemes to steal client data from tax professionals. Using that data they file fraudulent tax returns and deposit the erroneous tax refunds into the taxpayers’ real bank accounts. Then, posing as IRS or law enforcement, the thieves ask the taxpayers to return the money to them.

To get the funds from real taxpayers, thieves use various tactics. In one version, criminals posing as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS reach out to taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error and ask the taxpayers to forward the money to their collection agency. In another version, taxpayers receive an automated call with a recorded voice claiming to be from the IRS. The caller threatens taxpayers with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security Number. The recorded voice then gives the taxpayer a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.

If this happens to you, see here for how the IRS wants you to return the funds and avoid being scammed. This information is directly from the IRS.

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