California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

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California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Patrick Degan » 2009-02-18 01:46pm

So... The state of California is facing a $42 billion budget shortfall, leading Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger into some very unpalatable choices. You'd think, in this moment of crisis for the state and it's millions of citizens, that the legislature would pull together to solve the problem. Well...
(CNN) -- California lawmakers worked into early Wednesday but couldn't pass a budget to avoid the possibility of laying off 10,000 more state workers.

Lawmakers brought blankets and toothbrushes to work Tuesday, planning to stay as long as it took to pass a budget, but as of 2 a.m. PT (5 a.m. ET) Wednesday, it appeared they had taken a step backward.

Late Tuesday, Republicans ousted their leader, Sen. Dave Cogdill of Modesto. The move was likely to complicate debate because Cogdill had headed up negotiations with Democrats on the budget impasse.
Of course, a good part of California's problem stems from it's constitutional requirement for a 2/3rds majority to pass any tax increase, and compounded by it's goofy referrendum system which has hamstrung the state government for years. But it still comes down to the plainly visible fact that Republicans in the legislature would rather see the state burn than have any new revenue come in if it means raising taxes to any degree. Doesn't matter that California is facing the possibility of default or will have to slash state spending to a degree that the quality of life will suffer for it; the Tax Cut Religion's commandments are absolute, and Woe Betide any Republican who turns heretic by even talking to a Democrat.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Kanastrous » 2009-02-18 01:58pm

The proposed tax increases are not incidental.

The state's government is over-bloated - for real; I am not a Republican - and there are cuts that can be made before we ought to start paying a tax on our taxes.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Terralthra » 2009-02-18 02:01pm

$42 billion in cuts aren't incidental either. If you think you can make those cuts in the budget without causing huge amounts of harm to schools, law enforcement, etc., maybe you ought to go to Sacramento.

The proposed budgets have all included some cuts in services, layoffs, etc., in addition to tax increases. The idea of compromise has been forgotten by Republicans in this state. It's all or nothing for them: they get their tax-increase-free budget, or they let the state burn.

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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Questor » 2009-02-18 02:08pm

Kanastrous wrote:The proposed tax increases are not incidental.

The state's government is over-bloated - for real; I am not a Republican - and there are cuts that can be made before we ought to start paying a tax on our taxes.
From here
San Jose Mercury News wrote:SACRAMENTO — The Senate Republican leader who agreed to a budget deal with billions of dollars in tax increases was ousted by his GOP colleagues in a late-night coup early this morning, injecting another dose of uncertainty into the high-stakes battle over the state budget.

Around midnight, the Senate Republican caucus voted to boot Dave Cogdill of Fresno, one of the so-called "Big 5" leaders who reached a pact last week to close the state's staggering $40 billion deficit with a mix of steep tax hikes, spending cuts and borrowing.

Cogdill, who was chosen to lead the caucus last year in large part because of his conservative anti-tax credentials, angered his GOP colleagues last week when he brought them a budget package that included $14.3 billion in tax increases. The measure remains a single Republican vote in the Senate shy of approval.

"It's a shame it ended this way," the usually straight-faced Cogdill said with a hint of emotion after learning the news. "But we did what we thought was right. I love this state." Voted in as the new Republican leader was Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murietta, who wasted no time emphasizing his opposition to higher taxes while criticizing the budget deal.

What effect Cogdill's ouster will have on the search for the final budget vote wasn't immediately clear. But it did not go unnoticed that the two Republicans targeted as the most likely possibilities for casting the decisive vote in favor of the deal — Abel Maldonado of San Luis Obispo and Dave Cox of Fair Oaks — opposed Cogdill's removal. Hope bubbled among the budget's supporters afterward that the coup might persuade one of them to come on board.

"I just can't believe in the middle of the night we would oust our leader," said a visibly upset Maldonado, who has had a strained relationship with Cogdill in the past and criticized him publicly as recently as a few days ago. Maldonado, a moderate whose district extends into Silicon Valley, has emerged as a central figure in recent days because of his willingness to vote against his party on past budgets.

But so far, neither Maldonado nor Cox has budged. A Senate vote on the budget plan's key tax bill fell short on a 23-12 vote early this morning, with Maldonado voting no and Cox abstaining. The measure requires 27 votes, or two-thirds, to pass. Three other senators who are expected ultimately to vote for the bill declined to do so until it is clear it has enough support to pass.

The vote was held open for later and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, then followed through on his promise to lock senators inside the Capitol for as long as it takes to pass the budget. The so-called "lockdown" could last hours or even days, he said.

The move prompted legislators to stock sleeping bags and toothbrushes in the stately Senate chambers — a sign of how bizarre the colossal tug-of-war has become over the effort to levy $14 billion in new taxes on Californians even as the federal government is sending billions in tax relief to stimulate the state's economy.

If the lockdown wasn't enough to force action on a plan to close the state's $40 billion budget hole, administration officials reminded lawmakers that, as of Thursday, 270 state-funded transportation projects will come to an abrupt halt, leaving thousands of road and construction workers — including some in Santa Clara County — unemployed.

"It is clear that there is going to be catastrophic consequences for California if we don't get this done today," Steinberg told reporters Tuesday. But early Wednesday morning, the Senate leader had little positive to report.

"I would describe it as a bit of a discouraging day," he said before heading to his office to catch a few hours of sleep on a cot.

As lawmakers settled in for an all-nighter, the governor flew to Los Angeles to spend the night at home with his family.

"The governor negotiated with legislators until late this evening and he'll continue those efforts tomorrow," spokesman Aaron McLear said Tuesday night of the governor. Schwarzenegger normally flies home each night to see his wife and children but spent all of last weekend in the Capitol trying to secure the final vote for the budget.

With the budget resolution stalled, the Republican governor moved forward on his pledge to cut the state's payroll by 10 percent, or 10,000 positions. Preliminary layoff notices went out to some 20,000 employees who face the prospect of losing their jobs in the spring. Lynelle Jolley of the Department of Personnel and Administration said an unknown fraction of those workers will actually be laid off once the budget comes into better focus.

Jolley said 54 departments funded by the state's general fund — led by corrections and mental health — were asked to rank their employees by seniority and then submit a list of the bottom 20 percent. Seniority is calculated by a person's total service with the state, Jolley said, not within each department.

Maldonado eyed

The fourth day of the budget-vote standoff brought a somewhat surreal atmosphere to the Senate chamber, where lawmakers and staffers running on little sleep after marathon sessions had a hard time remembering what day of the week it was.

All eyes continued to focus on Maldonado. He has suggested he could be the third and final Republican needed to support taxes if the Legislature would adopt three controversial reforms — including withholding legislators' pay when budgets run late.

Cox, who represents a district in and around Sacramento County that is home to many state workers, is the only other GOP member high on the list of potential lawmakers who may eventually side with the Democrats.

The state budget, which is normally negotiated in the spring and summer, took a time-pressing turn late last year when Schwarzenegger announced that the state was on track to run out of cash this month because of the recession.

Since then, the governor and top legislative leaders have worked privately to negotiate a proposed budget, which includes $14.4 billion in tax increases, $15.1 billion in cuts to programs and services and nearly $11 billion in borrowing.

Support in Assembly

If and when the budget passes the Senate, the 27-bill package would move to the Assembly, where enough Republicans have committed to it to clear the two-thirds threshold.

Steinberg hopes the lockdown, a negotiating tactic that hasn't always succeeded in the past, will force members of the Senate into action. Senators of both parties were taking him seriously, preparing late Tuesday night to sleep in the building.

"I've got my jammies, they're up in my office right now, and I have my toothbrush and toothpaste," said Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, as she waited for the tax debate to begin.

Assemblyman Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, showed off the navy blue sleeping bag he stored under his desk in the chamber. But he said he thinks the lockdown may produce a vote: "I think it wears on you."
Emphasis mine

I would like to remind Kanastrous that they are making more cuts than they are tax increases.

EDIT: Kanastrous, what cuts should be made?

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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Cecelia5578 » 2009-02-18 02:51pm

Kanastrous wrote:The proposed tax increases are not incidental.

The state's government is over-bloated - for real; I am not a Republican - and there are cuts that can be made before we ought to start paying a tax on our taxes.
The mantra of the self satisfied upper middle class yuppie who doesn't realise just how much in a world of hurt lots of people will be because of this fuckup. You know, some people rely on state services.


I, for one, would like to have a workable government that reflects the fact that we live in the country's largest economy, one that doesn't aim for Alabama levels of service.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Zed Snardbody » 2009-02-18 03:12pm

What exactly happens when a state defaults?
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Kanastrous » 2009-02-18 03:44pm

Cecelia5578 wrote:
The mantra of the self satisfied upper middle class yuppie who doesn't realise just how much in a world of hurt lots of people will be because of this fuckup. You know, some people rely on state services.
(1) Without having seen my tax returns I don't know what leads you to believe that you know dick about my tax bracket, class identity or degree of yup-ful-ness.

(2) *I* rely upon state services, too. Unless public roads, police and emergency agencies, employment development department services and utilities systems don't count as 'state services.'

(3) California already has the highest sales taxes in the union, highest income tax in the union, and is lucky to have only the tenth-highest median property taxes in the union thanks to Proposition 13, which still leaves us in the top 20% of property-tax payers, on some of the most expensive property in the country.

In fact, we don't have a workable government, as illustrated by (a) the position the state legislature has maneuvered the state into over the last 15-20 years and (b) the fact that the same legislature has still not figured out a way to generate a budget that doesn't lay additional huge spending on top of the huge spending created by their expansion of state government and services far faster than the growth of the state's revenues or population.

As far as a brilliant no-tax-increase patch on the problem, I don't have one. All I know is that as a citizen whose only apparent function is to earn money to have it siphoned away into the state's coffers (and I am not a kick-back-and-collect-dividends taxpayer either; virtually my entire income is employee income) I feel that paying the highest tax burden in the nation means that people in my position are paying enough. The state representatives and officials in Sacramento are paid to develop those solutions; it's the job they asked for, for which they are responsible. I expect *them* to pull a magic solution out of their collective asses.

Of course, I could always move, I guess, to a nearby state with lower taxes. Which is what a number of people who earn enough to care, are doing already. Good luck filling the state's coffers, taxing the people who remain behind.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Questor » 2009-02-18 04:07pm

Kanastrous wrote:(3) California already has the highest sales taxes in the union, highest income tax in the union, and is lucky to have only the tenth-highest median property taxes in the union thanks to Proposition 13, which still leaves us in the top 20% of property-tax payers, on some of the most expensive property in the country.
Actually, if you read the article, you find that California's sales tax limit is actually NOT the highest. And analyzing sales tax by state is an exercise in futility anyway. Cook County, Illinois has a sales tax rate of 11.5%. California's base income tax is .25% higher than the next state.

Also, if you take out the 1% on incomes above $1,000,000, Vermont has higher income taxes.

Your quote on the property taxes is also misleading. If you look farther to the left on the chart, you will find that as a percent of the value of the home California ranks 45th. Property is expensive here, and that makes the property tax that much more expensive, on absute terms, than in other states.
As far as a brilliant no-tax-increase patch on the problem, I don't have one. All I know is that as a citizen whose only apparent function is to earn money to have it siphoned away into the state's coffers (and I am not a kick-back-and-collect-dividends taxpayer either; virtually my entire income is employee income) I feel that paying the highest tax burden in the nation means that people in my position are paying enough. The state representatives and officials in Sacramento are paid to develop those solutions; it's the job they asked for, for which they are paid. I expect *them* to pull a magic solution out of their collective asses.
You said, earlier:
Kanastrous wrote:The state's government is over-bloated - for real; I am not a Republican - and there are cuts that can be made before we ought to start paying a tax on our taxes.
I'm looking at the budget right now, and I'm seeing cuts in a number of areas. Please tell me which areas you think, in the above quote, "cuts can be made" in.

If you're going to say that it can be done, please tell me how. Demanding that others create a miracle for you is unreasonable.

If you are saying that things should have been done before now, I agree with you.

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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Guardsman Bass » 2009-02-18 04:25pm

I'm not surprised at the California Republicans taking this stance. If the idiotic budget-by-referendum (and a simple majority referendum at that) and 2/3rds budget (not tax increases - budget period) are two legs of the shit stool that California is sitting on, the third is rampant gerrymandering. The state has some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country.

What does that mean? It means that most of these Republicans are sitting in highly conservative districts where they effectively don't get opposition from the other side, so the only check on their office-holding is in the Party Caucuses and Primaries. Those tend to be more conservative than the populace as a whole, and woe to any Republican from those areas who diverts from the dogma - their ass will be out the door in a primary challenge come next election.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Glocksman » 2009-02-18 04:40pm

On the other hand, Indiana has a flat 3.4% income tax and a sales tax that recently went up to 7% to pay for property tax caps.
My county also has a 1% income tax and a 1% 'food and beverage' tax on restaurant sales.
The restaurant tax was supposed to lapse when the bonds issued to pay for the new city/county convention center were paid off, but now the Mayor wants to use it to partially finance an unneeded brand new stadium downtown.

Never mind the fact that we're under EPA watch because of the many miles of now illegal old combination sewers that also back up and flood entire neighborhoods during heavy storms.

My fixes for Indiana would be to scrap the flat rate income tax in favor of a progressive tax, reduce the sales tax back to the 4% it used to be, and revamp the school funding system that causes property taxes to go so high to begin with by funding schools mostly from state general revenue coffers paid for by the increased revenue from the progressive income tax.

My fix for Evansville would be to tar and feather the Mayor. :P
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by CmdrWilkens » 2009-02-18 06:38pm

Kanastrous wrote:(3) California already has the highest sales taxes in the union, highest income tax in the union, and is lucky to have only the tenth-highest median property taxes in the union thanks to Proposition 13, which still leaves us in the top 20% of property-tax payers, on some of the most expensive property in the country.
...and yet California is 11th in per capita taxation. That is per person California collects $3,514.06 per person in taxes (combining sales, property, income, corporate, excise, and other taxes). This compares against a high in Alaska (mostly corporate taxes) of $5,054 per person to a low in SD of $1,579.87 per person. So quite clearly there is a pretty decent gap between "highest tax burden" that you seem (emphasis seem) to be claiming and the actual reality of the situation.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Kanastrous » 2009-02-18 06:49pm

^ doesn't that simply imply that we have proportionately more people on the bottom end of the scale, whose contribution amounts drag down the overall average?

The fact that the average individual contribution may be lower does not contradict the percentage taken being higher, does it?
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Surlethe » 2009-02-18 06:58pm

Glocksman wrote:My fixes for Indiana would be to scrap the flat rate income tax in favor of a progressive tax, reduce the sales tax back to the 4% it used to be, and revamp the school funding system that causes property taxes to go so high to begin with by funding schools mostly from state general revenue coffers paid for by the increased revenue from the progressive income tax.
How about keeping the sales tax high, making the income tax progressive, and abolishing property taxes altogether? That way, you can fund schools from the state general revenue coffers -- allocate to district proportionally on representation, tied to inflation. And make it a wedge issue between Republican elites and your average laid-off Republican factory worker.
My fix for Evansville would be to tar and feather the Mayor. :P
What, not annex the Green River Road stretch out to the east and bankrupt the county in the process? :P
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by CmdrWilkens » 2009-02-18 07:03pm

Kanastrous wrote:^ doesn't that simply imply that we have proportionately more people on the bottom end of the scale, whose contribution amounts drag down the overall average?

The fact that the average individual contribution may be lower does not contradict the percentage taken being higher, does it?
It could also indicate a paticularly low corporate tax rate with individuals having to share a larger protion of the burden. Thus you could be the recipricol of Alaska whose taxes while the highest per capita are almost entirely those on corporations (oil and gas obviously).
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Kanastrous » 2009-02-18 07:09pm

California appears to have the sixth-highest corporate taxes among the states, behind Alaska, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Which can't be good for our competitiveness; our neighbors' corporate tax rates are much lower; Nevada does not list corporate tax at all.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Straha » 2009-02-18 07:22pm

Zed Snardbody wrote:What exactly happens when a state defaults?
Same thing that happens when a person goes bankrupt. Depending on how bad the clusterfuck is (and it's bad here) it can range from rescheduling payment of the debt to their creditors to the state simply declaring that it wont pay off any of its debts. Sometimes another solution can be found, New York City went, essentially, bankrupt in the 1970s but a group of businessmen baled out the city in return for imposing incredibly tight scrutiny on the municipal government's budget and fiscal health. The main problem wouldn't be defaulting, which isn't to say defaulting is any means not a horrible calamity in and of itself, but that the Government would be unable to raise capital through borrowing in the future, except through (perhaps) paying absolutely exorbitant interest rates. This destroys any chance of deficit spending, or even spending money which the government doesn't absolutely have in hand, and could effectively wipe out most of the state government services.


On the main point of the thread:

California taxes are, oddly enough, some of the highest and some of the easiest to avoid in the nation. Case in point: good friend of my family's lives on the ocean side in California in a really large house with a beach as part of the property. This house would probably sell for well over a million dollars, if not much much more. She pays about three thousand dollars in property tax a year, and that's more than most her neighbors (who own much nicer houses) do. Why? Because the house was last appraised in the 1950s and hasn't been reassessed since, and the state doesn't adjust property tax to account for inflation or anything else. And that isn't even the worst of the loopholes. So while California's taxes might seem exorbitantly high the actual paid by Californians (when averaged out) isn't really that extreme.

Which is bad because California spends money like they've won one of those supermarket sweepstakes where you get all the stuff you can stuff into a shopping cart for free.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Kanastrous » 2009-02-18 07:25pm

L.A. County property taxes are increased every year. Maybe the increase is not tied to the rate of inflation, but there sure is a yearly increase. And, properties are reassessed (calculation based upon sale price) every time they change hands. Pity the poor idiots who bought real estate at the very top of the market; whatever their property is worth now it will be taxed based upon the hyper-inflated price they chose to pay when they bought in.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Straha » 2009-02-18 07:27pm

Kanastrous wrote:L.A. County property taxes are increased every year. Maybe the increase is not tied to the rate of inflation, but there sure is a yearly increase.

County tax is different from state tax. I'm dealing solely with the state tax code, which I heard someone describe once as "an accountant's wet dream." Or something to that effect.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Glocksman » 2009-02-18 07:31pm

Surlethe wrote: How about keeping the sales tax high, making the income tax progressive, and abolishing property taxes altogether? That way, you can fund schools from the state general revenue coffers -- allocate to district proportionally on representation, tied to inflation. And make it a wedge issue between Republican elites and your average laid-off Republican factory worker.
Sales taxes are regressive. Property taxes can be for those on fixed incomes trying to stay in the house they paid for 50 years ago, but there are credits that can be granted to account for that while insuring that someone in a $400k McMansion isn't getting a free ride on infrastructure and services paid for with property tax funds.
What, not annex the Green River Road stretch out to the east and bankrupt the county in the process? :P
I forgot someone here knows the area. :lol:
As you're no doubt aware, we already have Roberts Stadium out on the east side.
If we need a new arena, just tear the existing one down and build new on the same spot, thus avoiding the expense of paying off the Mayor's property owning buddies downtown and creating a parking nightmare.

If I had my way, we'd have unified city-county government and the township system would be abolished altogether.
Though even then I'd still insist on dipping Weinzapfel into a barrel of hot tar just on general principles. :twisted:
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Questor » 2009-02-18 08:36pm

Kanastrous wrote:California appears to have the sixth-highest corporate taxes among the states, behind Alaska, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
What about Iowa (12% at $250,000), Maine (8.93% at $250,000), Minnesota (9.8% Flat), and D.C (9.975% Flat)

Use either the top bracket or the bottom, don't play around.

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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Kanastrous » 2009-02-18 09:56pm

I'll read more carefully.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Patrick Degan » 2009-02-18 10:59pm

Kanastrous wrote:California appears to have the sixth-highest corporate taxes among the states, behind Alaska, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Which can't be good for our competitiveness; our neighbors' corporate tax rates are much lower; Nevada does not list corporate tax at all.
Competitiveness? California's is the eighth-largest economy on Earth.

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Clearly it is quite competitive just on its own in terms of per-capita industrial output, international trade, and technology development —despite its taxation. In fact, Texas, which has much lower corporate taxation (what they call a "franchise tax"), posted only 63% of California's state GDP.

Oh, and as for Nevada, in 2007 it ranked 31st in state GDP.

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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Samuel » 2009-02-19 02:20am

Part of the reason is due to the fact we have so many people- 40 million makes us the 31st largest country on Earth, with only 9 above us 1st world. Of course, the high tech industry, ports, farming and the like help.

Remember, taxes aren't all companies look for- there is a reason that Silicon Valley exists with all the tech companies clustered in one place.

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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by Glocksman » 2009-02-19 02:51am

Samuel wrote:Part of the reason is due to the fact we have so many people- 40 million makes us the 31st largest country on Earth, with only 9 above us 1st world. Of course, the high tech industry, ports, farming and the like help.

Remember, taxes aren't all companies look for- there is a reason that Silicon Valley exists with all the tech companies clustered in one place.

Indeed.
If taxes were the deciding factor, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama would be economic powerhouses.
They can play a part, but I doubt you'll be seeing Intel leaving Santa Clara for Jackson, MS anytime soon.
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Re: California - Just Republicans Being Republicans...

Post by The Yosemite Bear » 2009-02-19 10:33am

My parents may be unemployed as a result of this, they both work for the Government my mom's a teacher, and my dad's a mechanic with rapid transit. So you want kids with no education?, and people who can't get to work?, oh wait eveyone has to drive their own cars right?
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