Did you walk on the sidewalk, drive on a road, eat in a clean restaurant, or drink clean water from your faucet today?
Were you thinking: “What a great day to be a taxpayer!”?
We often forget the structures and services we depend on everyday are paid for by taxes. However, over the past several years, with this year being the worst, the word “taxes” has been surgically sown to the word “cuts.”
Cuts were the certainly the star of the 2011-2012 California State Budget show. In fact, state spending for the coming year is at a historic low. With significant cuts to education, health and human services, and the criminal justice system, every Californian is going to be affected by our painfully austere, albeit balanced, budget.
We need to return another word to the debate: revenue. And California has revenue options. For example:
Oil Severance Tax: 22 states produce oil. 21 have an oil severance tax. California does not. Alaska has a 25% oil severance tax! Just a 6% tax here would raise $1 billion.
Restoring a top income tax rate of 10% on the 2% of Californians who earn over $250,000 a year. A few years ago their top tax rate was 10%. And was lowered to 9.3%. Just a .7% increase would raise $4-6 billion.
Vehicle License Fee: Just $18 per vehicle would raise $500 million and keep all our state parks open.
A healthy balanced budget requires looking at revenue as well as cuts. It requires accountable spending and adequate income. The basis for the conversation must be the common good. Recently, at a workshop at Tides, I had a conversation with other nonprofit professionals about taxes, and how they are a mirror of community values. Do we value the common good in California? Cuts to Medicaid and ever-increasing higher education fees would cause many observers to say “no.” But we who work for nonprofits are the stewards of the common good and we must insist that the answer become “yes.”
Find out how you can help: visit nonprofitstalkingtaxes.org.
Kim Klein is an internationally known fundraising trainer best known for adapting traditional fundraising techniques, particularly major donor campaigns, to the needs of organizations with small budgets working for social justice. Kim is the author of five books including her most recent, Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times. Her classic text, Fundraising for Social Change, now in its fifth edition, is widely used in the field and in university degree programs. Kim is a member of the Building Movement Project where she writes a blog exploring "the commons" and is the co-founder of Klein & Roth Consulting.