January 29, 2009
-- by Dave Johnson
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
The key to California's successful business environment are education and infrastructure. It is not an accident that our semiconductor and computer and Internet industries, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical and genetic engineering and our other world-class competitive industries developed in California instead of in "low tax" states like Mississippi and Alabama. These industries thrived here because of our well-educated people and our modern, well-maintained infrastructure.
There has been a dramatic wealth-building return on our investment in education and infrastructure. Investors could count on California as a good place to start and grow a business, and it has paid off.
But how much would it cost if businesses had to pay fair market value for use of the infrastructure that We, the People built? What would it cost if companies had to pay the full education cost every time they hire someone who was educated at a California public school or state college or university?
What would it cost if companies had to pay to be provided with police and fire protection? Should companies pay a fee to have the police investigate, catch the perpetrators, and then put them through the criminal justice system?
What would it cost if companies had to pay fair value to use our roads and air- and seaports.
What would it cost if companies had to pay for access to the legal system that We, the People set up. We passed the laws and paid for the courts. We set up the entire legal structure.
We, the People pay to regulate (and apparently bail out) the banking and financial system. What would it cost if businesses had to pay us for setting up this system that (used to) keeps our money sound?
This is what government and taxes are for. We, the People built up California's comprehensive physical, legal, cultural, education and societal infrastructure. Businesses rely on that infrastructure, and we want them to thrive. This benefits us all. Many, many people became wealthy by betting on California as a great place to do business, and we are proud of that. Now it is tome to give something back.
Building and maintaining that infrastructure does cost money, and that is where taxes come in. For several years California has been cutting taxes and cutting back on our investment in education and infrastructure. Businesses cannot continue to thrive as they have if we continue along this path. We have reached a point where the tax-cutting has brought our state's education spending to the second-lowest per-pupil of all the states! We have been and are deferring maintenance on roads and other infrastructure. We are cutting back on all essential services and we still have a $40 billion budget shortfall!
Our companies are getting a good deal. If we charged fees that were based on the actual value of the service that the infrastructure provides businesses would have to pay much, much more than any level of increased taxes companies and wealthy individuals might be asked to pay to help California meet the budget shortfall. The businesses and individuals who thrived because of the infrastructure we built need to contribute to the future by agreeing to pay taxes to help invest in rebuilding that infrastructure.
The payoff is clear. As I wrote above, there is a reason that Silicon Valley and genetic engineering and other wealth-creating industries developed in states like California and Massachusetts instead of "low tax" states like Mississippi and Alabama.
Click through to Speak Out California.
Posted by Dave Johnson at January 29, 2009 9:04 AM
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