Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee completed action on its suspense file this afternoon, approving several significant measures that would increase revenues to help balance the budget, as well as a number of measures that would reduce state revenues thereby making the already wide gap even larger. The Committee’s suspense file provides a mechanism for prioritizing bills that have a significant impact on state revenues – both tax increases, as well as tax cuts.

Measures winning the Committee’s approval on a “B roll call” basis – Democrats voting aye, Republicans voting nay – include AB 1935 (DeLeon) and AB 1936 (DeLeon) which would scale back and reverse, respectively, two of the three dark of night tax breaks enacted by the Legislature in recent years and AB 2492 (Ammiano), which would modestly reform the definition of “change of ownership” used to determine when properties that change hands must be reassessed for property tax purposes. Tax increases may be approved by a committee of the legislature by a majority vote, but must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each house for final passage. The Committee held AB 1604 (Nava) which would impose an oil severance tax and AB 1836 (Furutani), which would reinstate two higher tax rates on wealthy earners.

In actions that would, if approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, dig the budget hole even deeper, the Committee passed bills including tax deductions for doctors who volunteer services in community clinics (AB 2148, Tran) to tax breaks for gas stations that purchase emergency generators (AB 2665, Strickland) to tax breaks for energy efficient homes (AB 2014, Torrico). Committee Chair Anthony Portantino noted that the cost of new and expanded tax breaks that came before the Committee – including those that were not approved – thus far this year exceeded $5 billion.

Measures approved by the Committee will be referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

— Jean Ross

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