A new proposition just cleared for signature gathering proposes to ruin the best thing the California economy has going for it – huge oil and reserves – while wasting even more money on that perpetual fiscal sinkhole, the education system.
The as-yet unnumbered proposition would impose a 9.5 percent tax on the value of all oil and natural gas extracted in the state, which would raise an estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year.
The windfall would be spent as follows: 60% on education (designated for classroom instruction – how that will get by the teachers and administrators is a mystery to me – and split equally between UC, CSU, community colleges, and K-12 schools); 22% to clean energy projects and research (think Solyndra and Fisker); 15% to counties for infrastructure and public health and safety services, and the last 3% to state parks, where massive secret piles of cash have been squirreled away.
After 10 years, the revenue split would be 80% to education, 15% to counties, and 5% to state parks.
I know what you’re thinking. Opponents will point out that this will lead to a 9.5% increase in California’s energy prices, which are already among the highest in the nation, leading to the quick death of this new tax and spend scheme.
Not so fast. The sponsors of this bit of demented direct democracy have that covered, writing this into the Proposition:
Prohibits passing tax on to consumers through higher fuel prices.
Until the proposition language is released, it’s anyone’s guess how that can be constitutional – and if it is, how fuel producers can stay in business if they can’t pass the tax through to consumers.
Education is already California’s #1 expenditure, consuming well over 40 percent of general fund revenues. For all that, our K-12 schools are perpetually in the near-cellar of schools nationwide. Only a tax and spend addict would ignore the need for systemic reform and come up with a scheme to put even more money into the broken system.
Who would think that way? How about UC Berkeley students? They’re the ones who wrote the act, which is officially sponsored by Harrison “Jack” Tibbetts, who now carries the lofty title of Campaign Manager, Californians for Responsible (i.e., “No”) Economic Development, but whose only other job was being an intern at the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities.
If you’d like to share your thoughts about taxing oil and spending it on schools, you can call Jack at (707) 495-7438.