Same Gamble: Our Schools Now Proposition 1 And The Mega Millions Lottery

Tomorrow we vote on Questions 1 promote by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce’s front group “Our Schools Now”. The initiative will raise the fuel tax which will ripple through the economy (e.g. fuel costs impact the cost of food at the grocery store).

Besides being a bad idea to begin with, especially with the fiscal shell game the Chamber and their political pals plan to use, take a read of this article:

The Mega Millions jackpot (and why you are not being told the truth)

In the middle of the 20th century, when lotteries first started in the U.S., they were sold to states as a way to benefit the American public by providing additional funding for education.

This means that as the jackpots get bigger and people spend more money on lotteries – $223 per year by the average American, in fact – there should be more money in state budgets to spend on education.

But that isn’t happening.

Most state legislatures haven’t been using the lottery money for additional education funding. Instead, they’re using it to fund the basic education budget, and using the money that would normally fund education on other things altogether. As a result, public schools rarely get a budget boost.

With the Chamber’s involvement, I would expect the same here but rather than using lottery money for their shell game, they’ll use the gas tax to fund their other pet projects.

Really, it will be a double shell game: The tax is already a shell game as they use the gas tax money to fund other stuff so they free up money for education but I’m counting on them eventually turning around and using the freed up money for their pet projects instead of education.

Again, please look at my prior post on Question 1 and the prior political game with education money lead to this situation. Don’t fall for the shell game. Like the lottery, it’s a losing gamble but worse – this time you’re gambling with someone else’s money under government force.

Finally, an acquaintance passed an email on to me that also hits the issue:

Please see the attached link of the legislature when they were in the process of passing the “non-binding questions 1” that is on the ballot.

It shows how many of the legislators hold us, the tax paying voters.

http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=22914&meta_id=846895

Please consider how wise it would be to vote for a lifelong gas tax that cannot go directly to schools, it must be gerrymandered to go to education. Future legislatures cannot be held to switch funds around and every legislator I have talked to say it will only be for 1 or 2 years, but we will pay the tax increase for our lifetimes.

Please use wisdom in voting as we all have to live with the consequences.

The same advice should be applied regarding Proposition 3 (Obamacare-lite Medicaid expansion). Proposition 4 should also be opposed (I have no interest in unelected bureaucrats drawing up/manipulating election lines, it’s ripe for corruption; people doing this should be directly responsible to voters).

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Growing Big Government And The Welfare State, Utah Edition: Ballot Question 1 and 3

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce loves pushing government intervention and tax schemes, especially if they can benefit by pushing their costs and taxes onto you. This continues.

The chamber started a front group to push the “Our Schools Now” initiative which will raise gas taxes a whopping 18%. The chamber keeps using some tiny increase but it’s woefully deceptive ‘math’ (ironic given this is purportedly for education). Besides the bunk claim, the initiative will essentially muddy the waters on transportation funding as heretofore, the gas tax was reserved for transportation. Basically it will be placing the camel’s nose in the tent.

Worst of all, it will impact family budgets. Unlike a sales or income tax, this is a regressive tax. Families need fuel to get to work, take kids to school, and run basic errands. This will hit mid-to-low income families disproportionately to higher income levels.

Not to mention, this will put a drag on small businesses and the local economy as a whole (the Salt Lake Chamber represents big business, political elite interests, not mom & pops). There’s a reason high fuel/energy costs are always a concern and why people scream when gas pump bills jump – now they want you to give them carte blanche to jump prices.

Finally, as the Libertas Institute points out (read the report), current education funding issues are a consequence of Lane Beatty and his economic elites’ policies foisted on us in the late 90s. There are far better solutions to this than harming families and the Utah economy. Ironically, Lane Beattie is sponsoring the OurSchoolsNow charge for this tax increase…the same guy and group who messed things up totally has the fix now. Sure he does.

On to the next part of the shifting Utah to a welfare state: Medicaid expansion.

Do we really want Obamacare-lite at a local level that caused all sorts of problems in other localities that have expanded Medicaid? The expansion will increase taxes and will cost money resulting in additional raised taxes as cost overruns are realized and just create more drag on family budgets along with an expanded government role in personal health issues. No thanks, I’ll take care of that myself.

Other states that expanded Medicaid have seen cost overruns among other budgeting issues and have found worse health outcomes. Again, Libertas has a good write-up on this worth reading: Common Sense Healthcare Solutions Need More Than Band-Aids.

This should be an absolute nonstarter but people often have trouble turning down “free” government cheese, especially if they aren’t informed. Plus, I understand the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce supports this too but don’t have time to confirm/link to such (I recall they have in the past as it pushes business healthcare costs onto taxpayers).

As the adage goes (for both ballot initiatives):

Government: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.

Official: The Utah Tax-And-Spend Legislature Raised Your Taxes (Again), Will Use Legal Plunder For Political Cronies

On Wednesday, the Utah Legislature met for a special session to raise your taxes…again. Politicians say that because the State hasn’t collected sales tax from internet purchases, it has “lost” millions in revenue. First off, that isn’t the state’s/government’s money – that money belongs to citizens. It represents a portion of their labor. The government lost nothing to begin with.

You’ll notice that the state is funding things just fine and is not running a deficit. So rather than leaving us alone they’ve used this “government losing millions” to raise taxes and create a windfall for themselves to spend on their pet projects etc. This windfall comes on top of the property tax increase scheme they created earlier this year. In the case of the extra money this time, they’ve decided to dish out your money to their favored businesses (also known as crony capital).

To incentivize those companies, the state has allowed them to keep up to 18 percent of collected sales taxes. That incentive will end once the law requiring companies to collect taxes takes effect in January….However, about $55 million has already been earmarked for a tax break for manufacturers that lawmakers approved…

See, they know much better than you where you should spend your money and will even choose the businesses for you – how kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is behind this especially given that Sen. Curt Bramble was the sponsor. The whole thing really embodies Bastiat’s principle of legal plunder.

On the local level, Representative Ray Ward voted for the increase (he loves raising taxes and spending people’s money for his own interests) and Senator Todd Weiler also voted for it. I have no idea why Ray Ward purports to be conservative, he’s not. At very best, he’s a very liberal republican but he should just be honest and run as a Democrat.

Then again, per KUTV’s article, maybe even some Democrats might have a problem with which cronies Ward wants to fund:

“When do we say enough to manufacturers, enough to EnergySolutions, enough to private little tax cut deals to people?” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat.

The tax administration requirements will also hit small businesses harder with serious overhead that many have noted will likely harm them and favor big business as they can easily afford the overhead (lower per unit cost):

The requirement to collect sales tax will apply to companies that do at least 200 sales or $100,000 worth of sales in Utah in a year.

Essentially, they’ll provide competitive advantage to big businesses (who afford lobbyists, and entrenched political power players, like the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). So government will pick winners and losers.

On the up side, the legislature was apparently shamed into addressing the income tax increase they imposed on middle class families (they knew about it during the general session and ran it anyway). Do note that I’ve heard it was only a partial adjustment so some will still see an increase.

Don’t Press Your Luck With Tax-And-Spend Incumbents (UPDATE: Ray Ward Strikes Again)

Take a look at your phone bill and compare it to about a year ago, focusing on the tax portions. You’ll notice a significant increase on each phone line, ramping up your bill. You can thank our tax-and-spend legislators for this.

I don’t have time to analyze each increase for each line item this year and prior years. However, based on this article summarizing a set of 2017 tax increases (see the “Statewide telecommunications and prepaid cell phone rate increases” section) coupled with the voting record for 2017’s SB198, its clear legislators run up your bill. In South Davis, on of those with a history of voting for tax increases is Ray Ward and that’s no exception here either. Going on with my last post’s theme, it’s time to stop pressing our luck with Ward…this is a fourth ‘whammy’ and in the game, that means you’re out. I hope Phill Wright can pull off the win.

I’m probably too late for the primary election but if you’ll be voting at the polls, please take this last minute to look up voting records and be aware of many incumbents’ propensity to drive up family tax burdens.

UPDATE (6/27): Found out another item. Evidently Ray Ward was also behind forcing mandatory recycling fees down Bountiful resident throats (despite the majority of respondents opposing it). I understand he used a Scout troop to lobby (that is a no-no by Scout policies, BTW) the city council for the mandatory tax (“fee”) they surreptitiously shoved through as a “discussion” item. To top it off, the recycling market has tanked so we’re now also forced to pay for our ‘recycling’ to go to a dump. Thanks a whole bunch, Ray.

Unfortunately, Ward made it through his primary so this doesn’t bode well considering his penchant to use heavy-handed government means to fund all sorts of programs (including his own interests) through your wallet (even if it takes co-opting politically neutral groups).

2018: Utah’s Tax And Spend Legislature, Governor, Our Schools Now and the Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce

Next time someone wants to tell me Utah has a conservative legislature, they can shove it. They’re either GOP(e) party hacks or entirely clueless.

At the end of the legislative session, the GOP-Governor-Chamber of Commerce group managed to jack up your taxes and enable a flimflam scheme to trick people into raising them further…all during a year of budget surpluses (because it’s not your money and labor, it’s really their money to play with).

Here’s what they did: The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce created yet another front group (Our Schools Now) led by a group of Utah’s wealthy elites. They started a ballot initiative pushing for another big tax increase on everyone but themselves. Then they could count on  their “Available Jones” (aka Governor Herbert) along with their shills in the legislature to cut a deal with them – much like the tactic used to begin to crush Utah’s neighborhood caucus system (in the form of SB54 a few years ago). Herbert is now out there on some dog-and-pony show about how he ‘saved’ everyone from some big tax increase. It’s total baloney.

What Herbert and the legislature did (again) is save the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce from spending their own money to run a ballot initiative that was likely to fail. Instead, they passed a couple of increases and will also use your money to fund a tax increase question for the next election. C’mon, when you’re a special interest group tied with the political elite, someone else pays for your initiatives.

So here’s the damage:

  1. They will encourage local governments to further raise the sales tax to dish more cash to the corrupt and fiscally irresponsible Utah Transit Authority (UTA) or its new name, the Transit District of Utah. UTA is (surprise!) promoted by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and politically well connected.
  2. They “froze” the rate of the state property tax dedicated to education for five years thereby exempting it from truth-in-taxation hearings . Sounds good, right? Nope. Normally counties drop the tax rate as your home valuation increases as they have a cap on how much they can collect each year. This ‘freeze’ holds the rate regardless of valuation which will result in a surplus (of your money) they will harvest.
    Tip: Be on guard for them extending the freeze in perpetuity and expanding it to other entities that take property taxes. Also watch for an increased tempo of home value evaluations to further boost their take. Face it, property taxes combined with spendthrift politicians mean you never really own you home.
  3. They will shove a question on the next election ballot asking for a 33% increase in the gas tax from $0.29/gallon to $0.39/gallon.
    Here’s the flimflam: A few actual conservative legislators asked that they phrase the ballot question to include the percent increase (33%) or the old/new rate (0.29-0.39/gallon), thus giving voters clarity and context. Niet! said our liberal GOPe legislators and blocked the motion. Now the Chamber et al. can try to pull the wool over naive voters and spin the increase as ‘just a small 10 cent increase’. It’s a significant increase ($2.00 per fill-up) and will impact family budgets. In addition, it will not add even one penny to road funds since the amount going to roads from the general fund will be reduced by the amount of the increased fuel tax.
  4. There’s no guarantee the Chamber/Our Schools Now won’t press for more tax increases…which their politicians can then again cave on to ‘save us all from a bigger tax increase’.

I will acknowledge that there was a small decrease in the income tax but overall the average citizen came out on the losing end since all this, along with the last few years of tax increases, is going to hit your family budget. But so long as our political betters and their buddies can continue to spend your cash like drunken sailors, we totally have the most fiscally conservative politicians….ever!

 

Government Intrusion In Private Sector Claims Another Local Business Scalp (RDAs)

A local South Davis County business (in Bountiful) is closing it’s doors. Winegars, run by a local family, has been in the area for just over 100 years (since 1917). Unfortunately, government fooling around with things best left to the private sector dealt a blow they couldn’t overcome. You see, local governments used redevelopment agencies (RDAs) which provided a significant tax and competitive advantage to competitors (including a large chain/corporate grocer) which Winegars didn’t have (Winegars to close Bountiful store after decades in the community):

Existing stores have often been negatively impacted when redevelopment agencies or community development agencies are established, said Winegar, giving tax breaks to new businesses. The Smith’s on 2600 South in Woods Cross is in a redevelopment agency area and the Lee’s on Redwood Road in North Salt Lake is in community development agency area. Lonny and his brother, Weston, are the fourth-generation owners of the business. They bought it from their father, Dee, some years ago. The first store owned by the family was the Woods Cross Mercantile, which was opened in Woods Cross in 1917 by Thomas E. Winegar.

Yet another example of government actions deciding winners and losers along with some corporate welfare.

Note: Smith’s is part of the Kroger chain.

Bonus read: See the bottom of this post for links on what RDAs are along with the post on another example of abuse of RDA authority.

Doubling Dose Of Utah Corporate Welfare For Amazon.com

In January, I noted the sweetheart deal Governor Herbert had dished out to Amazon. It amounted to Amazon getting a cut of the tax revenue they collect by charging tax to Utah residents. I concluded:

…Amazon is collecting the tax and is getting a kickback that I don’t believe any brick-and-mortar or Utah online company receives…

Herbert and his cohorts heralded this as some great thing. I guess crony capital is so good, they felt like giving Amazon more of it. In June they announced:

…[Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development] GOED’s board voted to approve $5.7 million in economic incentives to lure the online company here.

Amazon collected their kickback to build a facility here in Utah. This means Bezos was ablet to double dip tax payers by getting a kickback for collecting and the bribe incentive for building here. As I noted on Gab at the time, this should be an embarassement:

Lemme get this right: In 2016, #Utah gives #Amazon sweatheart tax kickback deal unavailable to local retailers if they collect tax on UT residents. Now, Amazon will have location in Utah & have to collect tax anyway.

It sure sounds like Bezos played Herbert: he get’s a tax collection kickback then dupes us for $5.7 mil to build a facility which would require him to collect the tax anyway. Likely, Herbert etc were willing accomplices. This is the type of crap I would like to see end. States are competing with each other to entice corporate welfare business to their state by offering “incentives” on taxpayers’ and local retailers’ backs. It is something the Feds actually have constitutional authority to put a stop to and I wish they would look into doing so.

 


Addendum: As I said in June, I quit directly buying from Amazon and it’s worked great. I was given some Amazon gift cards so I bought stuff from 3rd party retailers on the site (I’m not just going to give Amazon the $ by not using the card) and have found that many 3rd party retailers have their own sites that offer the same product they’re selling on Amazon cheaper. Plus, I found many online and even local retailers match Amazon prices. I’ve always tried to support the local retailers and this has just furthered it. I encourage you to spend money in your local area, it makes a big difference (especially in rural areas where the internet seems to have really harmed the local mom & pop shops that used to exist in the small towns). Don’t boycott, buycott.