Monday, February 16, 2009
Business the big winner in California budget plan
Firms would get nearly $1 billion in breaks, while the average person would pay higher taxes five ways. Republicans say the plan would create jobs, but others dispute the claim.
By Evan Halper
February 14, 2009
Reporting from Sacramento -- The average Californian's taxes would shoot up five different ways in the state budget blueprint that lawmakers hope to vote on this weekend. But the bipartisan plan for wiping out the state's giant deficit isn't so bad for large corporations, many of which would receive a permanent windfall.
About $1 billion in corporate tax breaks -- directed mostly at multi-state and multinational companies -- is tucked into the proposal. Opponents say the breaks will do nothing to create jobs, and the Legislature has rejected such moves repeatedly in the past. But now, to secure enough Republican votes to pass a budget that would raise taxes on everyone else, the Legislature is poised to write them into law with no public hearings at a time when the state treasury is almost out of cash.
The tax breaks were inserted into the spending plan during private meetings between legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Less than 24 hours before today's scheduled vote, the proposals had not yet been printed in bills and made available to the public, but legislative leaders acknowledged them.
Most of the cost to the state -- or $690 million -- would come from changes in the way corporate taxes are computed, lowering the amount owed by many large companies. Smaller tax breaks are included for Hollywood production companies and small businesses that hire new employees.
"This is a pure giveaway for the vast majority of corporations that will benefit," said Lenny Goldberg, executive director of the California Tax Reform Assn., a union-backed nonprofit. "They will walk away with a great deal of money at everybody else's expense."
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