NEWS: NextUp Recap: Taxing California – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Posted May 11th, 2016

Taxing California – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On April 14, Southern California’s top business and community leaders gathered at Woodbury University for “Taxing California – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” a major educational convening as part of the NextUp series presented by the BizFed Institute, a sponsored project of Community Partners.

Here are some early highlights for your immediate use as BizFed staff works to produce a complete summary of the proceedings, including video clips, presentations, and other pertinent items to serve as an ongoing public policy resource.

Comprehensive Tax Reform for California
Hon. Betty Yee, California State Controller

California State Controller Betty Yee gave the keynote presentation examining the history of taxes in California and exploring the challenges associated with much-needed comprehensive tax reform.

Prop 13 – Understanding California’s Property Taxes
Presented by Watson Land Company
Rob Gutierrez, Director, California Tax Foundation

Rob Gutierrez, director of the California Tax Foundation at the California Taxpayers Association, presented a detailed history and spirited defense of Proposition 13.

Keynote Panel: Taxing California – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Moderator: Joe Henchman, VP for Legal and State Projects, Tax Foundation

Moderated by Joe Henchman, vice president for legal and state projects at the Tax Foundation in Washington, the keynote panel brought together diverse experts from competing points of view to tackle a range of tax issues affecting California.

Hon. Fiona Ma, CPA, Chairwoman, California Board of Equalization

State Board of Equalization Chair Fiona Ma shared some of the challenges and opportunities related to reforming the tax code to address potential revenue from legalized cannabis sales, and she gave a global perspective on managing California’s tax system.

Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, defended Prop 13 while also proposing some enhancements, such as making the benefit portable.  He also gave a critique of the dominant approach to fiscal management in Sacramento that overly focuses on revenue without sufficient attention to the economic affects of taxation.

Ana Matosantos, Former California Finance Director, Prop 30 Consultant to California Teachers Association

Former state finance director Ana Matosantos, who is consulting to the California Teachers Association, highlighted the positive results of Proposition 30, which temporarily raised income taxes on top earners to fund education and social services.  Arguing on behalf of CTA’s campaign to extend Prop 30, she noted that without the extension, there would be a $3 billion annual state budget shortfall and $5 billion in annual cuts to education.

Helena Jubany, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, NAC Architecture

Helena Jubany, a principal with NAC Architecture and a member of the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter, shared her industry’s deep concerns about proposals to tax services in addition to goods.  She noted that many professional services can be performed remotely, making it far too easy for services taxes to drive jobs out of California.

Rob Lapsley, President, California Business Roundtable

Rob Lapsely, president of the California Business Roundtable, demonstrated that California’s populations has increased but number of taxpayers has decreased, resulting in a net loss of about $26 billion in tax revenue.  He gave a spirited critique of Sacramento’s budgeting, which appears to already assume the continuation of Prop 30’s “temporary” tax increases.

Matt Rodriguez, CEO, Rodriguez Strategies, American Beverage Association

Matt Rodriguez, CEO of Rodriguez Strategies, representing the American Beverage Association, made the case that targeted taxes on sweetened beverages are to actually passed on to customers and instead have the greatest impact on small business owners without actually creating consumer incentives toward healthier food and beverage choices.

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