New Podcast: George Runner on California Tax Policy

September 30, 2011

This week for the Tax Policy Podcast I interviewed former state senator and current California Board of Equalization member George Runner on several topics relating to tax policy in the Golden State. We cover the impact of the state’s enactment (and recent suspension of) an “Amazon” sales tax law, the legacy of the 1978 property tax limitation measure Proposition 13, the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and the value in having a directly elected and accountable tax board.

Reacting to proposals to loosen the protections of Prop. 13 on business property, Runner said:

It comes down to the fact that there’s this misguided idea that somehow the state and local governments are owed more money because taxpayers – focused now on business taxpayers, on the property tax – aren’t paying their fair share, and as a result of that, if they’d just pay their fair share, government would have enough money. I kind of back away a little bit at that discussion and say, hey look, government has enough money. These are tough times for everybody and they ought to be tough times for government too, and government just needs to react to the revenues that are coming in.

The fact is California is the sixth highest taxed state in the nation, and in property tax we’re about in the middle. So this effort to then try to go after businesses and have them reassessed differently than homeowners is only going to drive California to be one of the highest property tax states also. And again, the lens that I look through all these issues on is will this increase employment in California or will this decrease employment in California? And I don’t think anyone could doubt, if you’re going to go to business landowners and ask them to pay a higher property tax, that that is not going to create a new job. That is only going to create less jobs in the state of California.

Listen to the show here.

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