Halloween: Scary sights in Sacramento as session comes to an end

By Senator Scott Wilk

Also published at the KHTS website.

Halloween is a time for fun but also a time for fear and terror. When my kids were young, my wife Vanessa and I always took them to ‘Fright Fest’ at Magic Mountain. It gave the kids a good scare but it was also fun. That’s how Halloween should be.

But for one group of Californians, this time of year represents a much more sinister and truly frightening time. Their tricks are an entire year in the making and they’re much more damaging than a theme park decked out with spider webs and fog machines.

Who are these folks you ask? They dwell in the haunted house of horrors we call the California State Capitol and their ‘Fright Fest’ is a year-long event known as the legislative session. They are our state legislators and they’ve just wrapped up another year of fear and set a host of horrifying new laws in to action.

These terror-invoking, waking nightmares may in fact be the scariest thing we see this Halloween as this year the legislature passed a number of bills that frankly terrify me. They terrify me because they will make life harder for the hardworking people in our community. Taxes, fees, regulations and restrictions with effects that will last long after the candy-bag runs dry following this year’s festivities.

Among the most egregious is a 12 cent-per-gallon gas tax called Senate Bill 1. And true to its terrifying nature the tax takes effect the morning after Halloween, November 1. The bill also comes along with a new $42 vehicle registration fee each year your registration comes due. Putting the total cost at astronomical levels, especially for commuters.

That is a massive tax, one of the biggest single increases we’ve ever seen, and it wasn’t even put to a vote of the people. I opposed SB 1 because I knew we could fix our roads – the supposed purpose of the new gas tax – without raising taxes, but the majority party refused to hear an alternative bill that aimed to do just that and instead relentlessly forced their new tax through the Legislature like an ominous, mask-clad murderer forcing his way in the front door.

But this is only the beginning, the opening scene to our horror film like legislative session. The majority party also passed a new fee up to $240 on real estate transactions and a massive expansion of our state’s cap-and-trade program that could see gas prices rise another 70 cents-per-gallon in the coming years. They passed bills that eased restrictions on criminals while increasing them on businesses. They did just about everything but help the people of California live a little easier or a little safer.

The democrat controlled legislature passed laws to help themselves while hurting others. They tinkered with election rules and voting requirements to tip the scales their way. They restricted our freedoms and constitutional rights. They did some truly scary stuff.

For our part, my colleagues and I tried to fight it. Like the good guy in a bad movie, we went against the majority party on these oppressive measures.

And often it worked; the majority party this year introduced enough new taxes and fees to raise the tax burden on every-day Californians by another $370 billion per year. That’s money straight out of our pockets.

If all those new taxes had passed we’d be looking at just over $14,000 annually, from every one of us, just in taxes. Luckily, despite being drastically outnumbered, we were able to stop many of them. But I’m still terrified of how deeply harmful the few we let slip through will be to everyday Californians who already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation and live with the highest cost of living.

This is a recurring theme in Sacramento for those of us who truly care about the wellbeing of our constituents and the future prosperity of our economy; terror. It scares me to think that each year the Legislature passed damaging and compounding new laws that stymie our economy and consistently place the burden on the backs of hard-working Californians. But they do.

Next year, the Legislature will introduce another 1,500 or so bills. Many will be harmful to you and I. Many will be taxes and fees that claim to be for good efforts like road repair and affordable housing but all too often those causes will never see that money. Instead the majority party uses it to fund pet projects like the failed high speed rail.

I will continue to fight against the horrors of over-taxation, over-regulation and neglectful, self-serving legislative and bureaucratic practices. I will continue to stand up for the people of the 21st Senate District and I will do all can to fend off the psychopath at the door, the ghoul in the statehouse and keep the people of our community safe from burdensome policies coming from Sacramento.