Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Proposition 26, Part 2: the money [UPDATED]

Okay, to refresh your memory, here's the argument the Yes on 26 people make: according to the president of California's Chamber of Commerce - 

Higher taxes and fees make it more difficult for businesses to stay in California – the very businesses that employ Californians, create jobs and generate revenue for our state. Increasing employment and growing the economy are crucial to California’s recovery.

Fees are bad, right? Well. Let's look at who hates fees. Mostly corporations who pay them.

One of the oil companies I mentioned in my Proposition 23 story today is Occidental Petroleum. Their support of Propositions 23 and 26 represents a continuous line of interest in limiting the impacts of climate change laws by a company whose greenhouse gas burden is, uh, impactful.

But it's not just oil companies who don't like fees. People who make the booze and smokes - increasingly targeted for health and environmental reasons for fees associated with their societal costs - don't like 'em - a LOT. The Wine Institute supports 26. They've given a quarter of a mil to the cause. American Beverage Association out of DC has more than 1.2 million worth of skin in the game. They've stepped up lobbying efforts since cities and school districts started placing FEES on soft drinks citing health and environmental concerns. And small groups - Stone Brewing Company - Stone Pale Ale, Stone Ruination IPA anyone? - care about this issue too.

MillerCoors. ConocoPhillips. Phillip Morris, The Small Business Action PAC - read this Capitol Weekly piece about the transparency (or lack thereof) of their funding, as not-required by California law. And Chevron - as Siel noted back midmonth - has started to throw down the real dough. $3.75 million, much of it in the last 2 weeks.

Who likes fees? Well, I dunno. But groups opposing 26 are: Credo, teacher's unions, state employees' unions, firefighters, highway patrolmen, the Alliance for Local Leaders for Education, Registration and Turnout  (The what now? "Established in 2002, ALLERT's mission is to deepen and expand the civic participation of traditionally underrepresented communities of color, youth, and low-income residents in South Los Angeles and other inner city neighborhoods of Los Angeles.") SCOPE  (WHO? "California's eroding tax base and federal policies that emphasize military over domestic spending aggravate conditions in communities already plagued by poverty and disinvestment.")

UPDATE, 10:56 PM: Heidi Pickman of the No on 26 campaign wrote to draw my attention to a story in the LA Times detailing California's business tax burden, and how it's not vastly different from other states, and is, in fact, in some cases, lighter. Fun chunk of the story:

California takes about 4.7% of what a business produces in taxes — which happens to be the national average. The government take is higher in Alaska (13.8%), New York (5.5%) and Florida (5.3%). Even Texas, known for rolling out the red carpet for business, pocketed more than California — 4.9%. [emphasis mine]

That's according to an annual study of the tax burdens in all 50 states by the Council on State Taxation, a business-friendly group led by senior executives of Chevron Corp., General Electric Co. and other major corporations.

"California is pretty middle-of-the-pack when it comes to business taxes," said Joseph R. Crosby, the organization's senior director of policy.

Although the state's corporate income tax rate — 8.84% — is among the higher in the nation, its bite is diminished by various tax credits and other measures that have been adopted over the years [...]

I always look forward to hearing, you know, actual stories from businesses. But those seem in short supply. Care to change that, anyone?