Increasing taxes, fees bring paycheck hurt
State, local revenue initiatives leave below average median household incomes to bear increasing burden of taxes and fees
Photo: Flickr/Stefan Lack
California’s forgotten citizens — people with below average median household income — are left to bear burden of increases in taxes and fees
By LIZ RAMIREZ
Who speaks for the “Forgotten?” The woman who is constantly told to fork over more of her money for road repairs, government employee health and pension programs? Or for electric cars and solar roof projects? The “Forgotten” who works to maintain a household but is constantly losing the battle to make ends meet?
New laws, regulations, and the endless stream of initiatives continue to drive up how much California residents need to pay to the state, their county, and even their local politicians.
No one seems to care about standing up and defending the individuals hurt the most by these cost increases.
A month ago, the California State Legislature passed a sweeping 19 cent gasoline tax and a new car registration fee with a maximum fee being $175 more per car, per year. This tax is called a regressive tax, where individuals with modest means are hit the hardest because a higher percentage of their income pays more for this tax than that of the rich.
Now, add that new gas tax and car registration fee to the “Forgotten” in Compton, where the median household income is $43,157 and the city ranks in the bottom 20 percent of cities in Los Angeles County in this category.
November 2016: The County of Los Angeles passed Measure M (0.5 percent sales tax increase), wherein 17 percent of the revenue generated countywide will go back to cities to repair local infrastructure, potholes, and street maintenance (called “local return”).
March 2017: The County of Los Angeles passed Measure H (Homeless issue), which put an extra 0.25 percent increase on sales tax throughout the county.
June 2017: The City of Compton passed a local measure to increase the sales tax by 1 percent, which was primarily touted as a fund to “pay for repaving city streets and establishing a street maintenance fund” (A lawsuit has been filed contesting the election result).
On top of all those new taxes and fees, a set of our own local politicians is currently debating a program in Sacramento that would once again raise gas prices an additional 63-73 cents per gallon of gasoline by 2021. This type of paycheck hurt is being felt by millions of residents with above average tax rates, and below average median household income.
Closer to home, it is hard to understand why our local, state, county, and city politicians are constantly pushing for higher fees, more gasoline taxes and constantly squeezing the pocketbooks of working families and the low-wage workers they are supposed to represent and protect.
If they have sold out, who is left to stand up and defend the “Forgotten?” Who will speak up for those on fixed incomes, single mothers, college students, and working families with modest incomes who battle daily to make ends meet?
When looking at this sorry state of affairs, I can’t help but think of the words of William Graham Sumner in his 1876 essay, “The Forgotten Man”:
“He works, he votes, generally he prays — but he always pays….”
Liz Ramirez is a community advocate in the Compton and South Los Angeles areas. She was raised in Compton and owned a family restaurant in Los Angeles for 25 years.