Government Finance and Operations 06/28/2013
Utility Users Tax
AB 792 (Mullin) - Request for Comment
As Amended on June 25, 2013
AB 792, by Assembly Member Kevin Mullin, would exempt from utility user taxes the consumption of electricity generated by a renewable distributed generation system that is installed for the exclusive use of a single customer.
CSAC would like to hear from counties about this proposal. Please provide informal feedback to Geoffrey Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 650-8115.
SB 1 (Steinberg) – Support
As Amended on May 2, 2013
SB 1, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would create a structure for continuing economic development activities consistent with the state’s sustainable development goals.
The foundation of CSAC’s support is allowing counties a clear option whether or not to financially participate in tax increment financing for economic development purposes. We believe an approach that encourages collaboration between counties and cities will best serve Californians. This approach would not only allow counties appropriate control over their own general funds, but necessitates discussions about what kinds of development benefits the community as a whole.
We appreciate the work and long discussions Senator Steinberg and the other stakeholders have had with counties during this multi-year process, and we are glad that SB 1, which includes a variety of governance models and a list of eligible uses, is one that we can fully support.
The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee will consider SB 1 at its hearing next Wednesday, July 3.
AB 1077 (Muratsuchi) – Oppose Unless Amended
As Amended on June 15, 2013
AB 1077, by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi, would give a sales tax break and vehicle license fee discount to purchasers of new alternative fuel motor vehicles.
CSAC has no quarrel with the Legislature favoring these purchases. However, AB 1077 would incentivize them using local revenue sources. If favoring these purchases is an issue of statewide concern, as passing this bill would indicate, then the state should use statewide revenues to reimburse counties and other local agencies for their losses. This is especially true where the funds pay for programs the state requires counties to perform, as in this case.
We appreciate that the bill excludes from the exemption some of the local portions of the sales and use tax, but it fails to exclude the portion that funds 2011 Realignment. Likewise, VLF funds portions of 2011 Realignment and 1991 Realignment. The Vehicle License Fee only benefits local agencies; no VLF revenue goes to the state.
Counties have taken a considerable risk with 2011 Realignment, that these two limited revenue sources will be sufficient to achieve what the state could not with greater resources: reduce recidivism, provide effective treatment to offenders, more closely supervise probationers, and successfully reintegrate all of them into the social fabric.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee will consider AB 1077 at its hearing next Wednesday, July 3. Because it is a tax measure, AB 1077 is exempt from the deadlines that apply to other bills.
Sales and Use Tax
AB 781 (Bocanegra) – Support
As Amended on April 18, 2013
AB 781, by Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra, would make it illegal to use, own, install, or sell an automated sales suppression device.
The sorts of devices targeted by this bill automatically hide actual sales levels from auditors, cheating both consumers and the public while unjustly enriching tax scofflaws. When unscrupulous Californians skirt their tax responsibilities, the burden of funding public services falls more heavily on those who follow the law.
By prohibiting the sale and installation of sales suppression devices, not only their ownership and use, the bill would make it easier for the Board of Equalization to reduce their use.
The Senate Public Safety Committee will consider AB 781 at its hearing next Tuesday, July 2.
AB 436 (Jones-Sawyer) – Support
As Amended on June 24, 2013
AB 436, by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would apply the principle of comparative fault to inverse condemnation cases where the defendant is a government agency. It would also apply normal tort standards relating to post-offer costs.
The state of the law on the issue of comparative fault has been uncertain for years. Because of the uncertainty, public agencies in inverse condemnation cases are at risk of being found liable for the full cost of a property, even when the agency only had a small part of the fault. AB 436 would settle this area of law reasonably and fairly.
The other provision of the bill would encourage property owners in inverse condemnation cases to accept reasonable settlement offers from the public agency. Under current law, if the property owner recovers anything, they are entitled to their full attorney fees and costs. This is only true for inverse condemnation cases. AB 436 would instead specify that if the plaintiff rejects an offer and fails to obtain a more favorable judgment, the plaintiff cannot recover costs incurred after the time of the offer. These new provisions are not only fairer, but also help to ease the burden on the courts.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider AB 436 at its hearing next Tuesday, July 2.