It has been my honor to represent you in the State Assembly since 2014. This last legislative session I successfully got eight bills signed into law that dealt with transparency, government efficiency and property ownership. Despite my legislative success, taxpayers weren’t as fortunate. The Legislature passed several bills that will increase costs on Californians, particularly hurting middle- and lower-income families.
In 2015 I authored Assembly Bill 809, which requires all tax measures that are placed on a ballot to clearly label the tax, the rate of the tax, and the duration of the tax. However, Los Angeles County found an activist judge who allowed them to place a sales tax on the ballot without disclosing to voters that it was a tax. To fight back I authored AB 195 last year, which closes the loophole and requires all taxes to be transparent with voters.
In 2016 the Legislature passed, over my opposition, SB 1263, which prohibited any new development on land that relied on hauled water. This bill effectively eliminates large portions of the High Desert from being developed. In response, last year I introduced AB 367 to allow homeowners who rely on hauled water to rebuild their homes if they burned down in a fire. I will continue to push for legislation that strengthens property rights.
In 2017, middle-class taxpayers in California were hit with more tax increases than any year since 1935. Taxpayers were burdened with the largest gas tax increase in state history when the Legislature passed SB 1, which took effect last November. It increased gasoline taxes by 12 cents per gallon, increased diesel fuel taxes by 20 cents per gallon, increased vehicle registration fees by between $25 and $175 per year, and added a new $100 fee on all electric vehicles. These new taxes represent a $5.2 billion annual tax increase on Californians. Unbelievably, 30 percent of the new funding is being diverted to projects that are unrelated to roads. And fewer than five percent of the funds can be used for constructing new highway lane miles, which means this tax does nothing to solve our traffic gridlock.
The Legislature did not stop there. Last September, SB 2 was passed, which imposes a $75 recording “fee” on real estate-related documents such as deeds and notices. These fees and taxes are extremely regressive and will drive up the cost of living in California. Our state already leads the nation in poverty, and these policies clearly hurt middle- and lower-income Californians.
The Legislature also passed several bills that make our communities less safe. Take for example AB 1448, which allows prisoners who are 60 years of age or older and have served 25 years of continuous incarceration to be eligible for parole, regardless of how much time is left on their sentence. Perhaps even worse is SB 394, which allows a person sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as a juvenile to become eligible for parole after serving 25 years in prison. Both of these bills will result in more criminals being released into our communities. Crime rates are already spiking across California — reducing punishments on criminals will only exacerbate the problem.
Although the Legislature did lasting damage to the middle-class in California in 2017, I am optimistic for California’s future. I have helped gather hundreds of signatures to put a repeal of the gas tax on the 2018 November ballot. I am also supporting an initiative that would address some of the unintended consequences of the recent criminal justice reforms that have resulted in an increase in the violent crime rate. I will continue to advocate for government transparency, government efficiency and expanded property rights. It is an honor to represent you.