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March 13, 2008

Oil Tax Defeated, School Budget To Be Cut -- What You Can Do

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Tuesday's post began,

In Dubai, people get free housing, free medical care, AND $5,000 per month. The people of Dubai share in the country's oil wealth.

In Alaska, people not only do not pay state taxes, the state government writes every state resident a check every year. The people of the state of Alaska share in the state's oil wealth.

But in California the big oil companies get to pump our oil from the ground for free, and then sell it back to us. Right now these oil companies are reaping the highest profits of any industry ever in history, making a few people immensely wealthy, and are not giving back any of this wealth to We, the People of California!

Our state's budget reflects our priorities and our values. So I wrote that We, the People of California should ask big oil companies to give back some of the immense wealth they are generating for themselves with our oil, so we can fully fund our California schools. I honestly did not know that Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez was about to introduce a bill to do just that. Well, he did, along with a windfall oil profits tax, and this is what happened:

The bill, which required a two-thirds vote to pass, was defeated on the Assembly floor after Republicans refused to vote for the new taxes.
These are choices, and the people of California need to understand that a choice was made yesterday to continue to be the only state that allows oil companies to pump our oil and not pay anything for it. And instead of asking the rich oil companies to give back a bit they want to cut the school budget by another 10%.

Republicans said the bill was a publicity stunt, saying Democrats know that no taxes can pass as long as there is a rule allowing just a few Republicans to block the will of the vast majority. They mocked the effort as an "oil drill."

"I think this truly is a political drill on the eve of the layoff notices that will go out all across the state and on the eve of (the legislative) spring break when we will be at home in our districts talking to our constituents," Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, said during the Assembly floor debate that lasted about three hours.
But do the people of California understand this? Do they realize that just a few votes can allow oil companies to get their oil free, while their children face ever-worsening schools? We need more "publicity stunts" to help them understand the different values and priorities that are being reflected. Politics and life are all about our priorities, not just our choices. What is more important to our people: rich oil companies or well-educated kids?

A choice is being made here, priorities and values are being expressed: cut our schools by 10% rather than ask rich oil companies to give back just a bit. Say it over and over, and then do something about it. Write to your legislators and demand they ask the wealthiest to start giving back a bit.

And remember, this is an election year. This is the time when citizens can do something about it when their legislators are not responding. This is the time that you can remove legislators who give wealthy oil companies tax breaks while cutting school budgets. You can volunteer to work in election campaigns, and go from door to door in their districts, letting voters know that their legislator made a choice and voted to cut school budgets while giving tax breaks to oil companies.

Help spread the word!

Posted by Dave Johnson at March 13, 2008 10:51 AM

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