Tax day, which fell on April 17 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 was paid. But they were wrong. Nationally, Americans actually had to work two more days this year to reach Tax Freedom Day, as calculated by the Tax Foundation - the day when all taxes assessed by the government are paid and we can start keeping the money we earn.
On April 19 - Tax Freedom Day - Americans collectively have earned enough money to pay the nation’s total tax bill for the year. In 2018, Americans will pay $3.4 trillion in federal taxes and $1.8 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of $5.2 trillion, or 30 percent of the nation’s income. That’s more than Americans will spend for housing, food and clothing combined.
In California, we must work four days longer to reach Tax Freedom Day because of our higher state and local taxes. This year, our tax burden wasn’t paid until April 23.
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, ranking 41 out 50 of states with the earliest Tax Freedom Day.
This year, Californians had to work 113 days in order to pay for federal, state and local individual income taxes. 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?
Bills To Help Overtaxed Californians
Every day feels like Tax Day in California. We have the highest income tax brackets of any state, top-five gas taxes, highest corporate tax in the western states, and so on down the line. And for all that money, the state’s taxpayers get broken down roads, crumbling spillways, and a laughingstock of a high-speed rail project. I say enough. That’s why I’ve introduced a group of bills to ease the burden on the families and businesses who see too much of their money go to Sacramento with too little result. The bill package includes the following:
- Standard Deduction Increase (Senate Bill 995)
Increases the standard deduction for California personal income tax filers by $1,500 for single filers and $3,000 for joint filers.
- Corporate Income Tax Rate Cut (Senate Bill 996)
Lowers California’s corporate income tax from 8.84 percent to 6.84 percent.
- 529 College Savings Plans (Senate Bill 1218)
Makes contributions to 529 College Savings Plans tax deductible in California, up to $20,000 per beneficiary per year.
- Budget Surplus Tax Rebate (Senate Bill 1231)
Refunds the state’s $6 billion 2018/19 budget year surplus to taxpayers by issuing tax rebate checks to all people who filed California income tax returns in 2016.
Taxpayers need a champion in Sacramento. These bills are a giant step in the right direction, and they would let the people know that their fate isn’t to always get poorer so their government can get richer.
Congratulations Jonathan Schwartz!
I had the honor of presenting a Senate Certificate of Recognition to Jonathan Schwartz, who teaches advanced manufacturing and woodworking at Colfax High School. Mr. Schwartz recently took home a first-place Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. His students use software to design wood projects and then build them with traditional shop tools, CNC equipment, 3D printers and laser cutters. Congratulations to Mr. Schwartz on this well-deserved recognition. Keep up the great work of inspiring, motivating and leading our students!
Congratulations Jonathan Schwartz!
My Senate Bill 1219, which would have eliminated California’s status as a “sanctuary state,“ failed to pass out of the Senate Committee on Public Safety.
I’m extremely disappointed the Committee members chose to neglect our state’s number one duty, which is to protect the safety of the citizens who reside here legally. Unfortunately, current laws have allowed the protection and harboring of illegal, criminal immigrants. 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.
Senate Bill 1219 would have eliminated California’s status as a “sanctuary state” by removing data sharing restrictions between federal and local law enforcement jurisdictions.
Currently, California restricts data sharing between federal and local law enforcement agencies to shield illegal alien criminals from deportation, flouting federal law and endangering California citizens and law enforcement. Repealing the data sharing restrictions placed on California law enforcement agencies would have allowed them to provide the federal Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) the information they need to detain and deport illegal alien criminals.
Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness, who testified in support of the bill, said, “Senator Gaines’ bill would have provided much-needed clarity to California law enforcement, who are currently torn between conflicting state and federal regulations. It’s an impossible spot to be in and it undermines public safety efforts around the state.”
Graduation Day At Simpson University
Senator Gaines gives commencement speech at Simpson University.
I had the honor of giving a commencement speech to the 150 Simpson University 2018 graduates. The class included undergraduates as well as students from the RN-BSN nursing program, ASPIRE degree-completion program, teaching credential and master’s-degree programs. I encouraged them to prioritize the pursuit of character and faith over wealth and success. I wish them continued success and know they all have bright futures ahead!
Click here to view the commencement ceremony.
Veteran License Plate Bill Passes Committee
Senator Gaines visits with members of The American Legion, Department of California, a nonprofit veterans service organization that supports Senate Bill 1357.
Senate Bill 1357 is a measure I introduced that would create a special “Veteran” license plate for the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces, passed out of both the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing.
Creating this veteran-designated license plate is just a small token of appreciation and recognition for the service and sacrifices made by our brave members of the military. I look forward to the bill’s continued support as it heads to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
Currently, through the California Veterans’ License Plate Program, the Department of Motor Vehicles issues specialty “Honoring Veterans” license plates to current service members, veterans, family members and supporters of veterans. They do not, however, provide a designation for veterans who have served in the military. SB 1357 would add a “Veteran” designation to license plates issued to actual veterans.
According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, in 2016, there were 1,789,862 veterans in California. As of March 2018, there were 23,479 registered “Honoring Veteran” license plates, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The funds generated from these specialty license plates will continue to go to County Veterans Service Veteran Offices.
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.” According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, last year, California suffered through 9,133 wildfires that burned an area of 1,381,405 acres. Those fires included some of the most destructive in the state’s history, destroying 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.
For more information visit ReadyForWildfire.org.
Bill Recognizing Opioid Crisis Passes Senate
I’m proud to report that Senate Concurrent Resolution 115, legislation that recognizes the impact that opioid-related deaths have had on California communities, passed out of the Senate.
This resolution points to some grim conclusions about opioid abuse in my district and I know the sad story is the same in other parts of the state. In Shasta County, for example, there are more opioid prescriptions issued every year than there are people. Opioid emergency room visits are shooting upwards and opioid overdoses claimed at least 16 lives in Shasta County in 2016.
SCR 115 encourages the state to increase funding for support and other programs in rural areas facing the epidemic, and supports groups and organizations working in California to combat the epidemic.
Opioid abuse splinters families and degrades our communities. It is a tragedy to see healthy, productive people become slaves to their vice. Fighting against opioids is fighting for families and for a better future for our entire state.
For more information on California’s Narcotic Treatment Programs, which provides opioid medication assisted treatment, detoxification and/or maintenance treatment services, which include medical evaluations and rehabilitative services, visit http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/individuals/Pages/NTP.aspx.
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