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Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

Issue Updates & Perspectives

  • 11 Sep 2018 8:38 PM | Anonymous

    As members of CoCoTax have been reporting at various city council meetings around the county, the public worker unfunded pension crisis will only increase in magnitude going forward for most agencies that offer a "defined benefit" pension plan.

    One of the frustrations in trying to get a handle on the problem is that the key numbers keep changing, but the trend is clearly troubling.

    The YouTube link below reports new twists in the problem.


    Note that for those agencies that also offer defined benefit health care plans, that unfunded shortfall will soon be added to the pension debt.

    Although there are no solutions that will correct the deficit short-term, there are feasible steps agencies can start now to "stop the bleeding."  All that is required is both sides across the bargaining table acknowledging that the current situation is unsustainable, and demonstrating the civic will to do what is clearly necessary.

  • 13 Aug 2018 2:17 PM | Anonymous

    CoCoTax is studying all state measures on the November ballot, and will make a decision on our position on Prop 10 and other state measures later this month.

    Since we have no opportunity to write ballot arguments for state measures, we will provide outreach on Prop 10 and other state measures during the pre-election cycle.

    Proposition 10 Fact Sheet

  • 07 Aug 2018 12:25 PM | Anonymous

    CoCoTax has worked for several years in partnership with East County Voters (ECV) to highlight the serious lack of adequate emergency and fire response resources in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD). Due to systemic misallocation of county property tax revenues, the district is currently understaffed and unable to respond promptly to 911 calls, a serious public safety issue.

    The district has a history of fiscal mismanagement and has refused to support a sensible reallocation plan drafted by ECV, which would require only minor contributions by other agencies in the district from anticipated increased property tax revenues to more fully fund fire prevention and response. The district seems bent on once again asking district residents for a tax increase, which CoCoTax has in the past and will oppose again in the future.  District property owners pay the same 1% county tax as all others in the county, and it is patently unfair to ask them to pay more.

    Fire District sends $1.9 million of Operating Funds to Oakley

    By Bryan Scott

  • 06 Aug 2018 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    CoCoTax strongly opposes AB 2923, which would severely curtail local planning control, and inject BART into risky real estate ventures.  Call your state representatives to register opposition.

    See floor remarks from Catharine Baker:  


  • 10 May 2018 2:32 PM | Anonymous

    Do you trust the Confederate State of California to spend a bond costing $4.1 billion, with another $ billion in interest charges to be honest with us?  Trust government to spend money wisely and for the public—not the unions and special interests?

    Click here for complete article.

  • 14 Feb 2018 2:36 PM | Anonymous

    WHAT IS REGIONAL MEASURE 3? Regional Measure 3 (RM3) will be on the June 2018 ballot of all nine Bay Area counties. Passage requires a combined “Yes” vote from a simple majority of voters in all nine Bay Area counties. Details of RM3 were devised by the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, on authority from California Senate Bill 595 (authored by Senator Jim Beall, and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017). In the context of RM3 “traffic mitigation” means funding for public transit and bicycle safety, as well as funding for highway construction. WHAT DOES RM3 DO? * Raises the toll of Bay Area’s state-owned bridges by $1 in 2019, another $1 in 2022, and another $1 in 2025, to a maximum of $3. The toll increase would raise $4.45 billion intended for transit improvements in the toll bridge corridors and their approach routes.

    For complete article click here.

  • 18 Jan 2018 3:08 PM | Anonymous

    One of the benefits of the new Trump/Republican tax reform package (“A closer look at state’s tax burden”, Sunday, Jan, 14) is that it exposes the absurdity of spending and abusive taxes of California and other high tax states.  This exposure has brought on what some are calling the “Blue State Panic” as governors and legislators in “blue” states (California, New York, Connecticut, and Illinois, in particular) fear the new federal tax law will reduce federal revenue to their states, grow taxpayer anger, create new budget shortages, fuel the “need” for new taxes, and increase the movement of productive citizens out of their States to low tax States.  All are already in-play.

     The Importance of Income Tax in California.

     California has the highest and most progressive income tax in the country (high rates at lower income levels).  According to the State controller, personal income taxes are, by far, the largest source of revenue for California, accounting for 58% in 2016 (it has been as high as 65%) of ALL taxes collected by the State.  An analysis by the State Franchise Tax Board shows that the top 1% of California taxpayers by income paid 45% of the total income taxes collected and 26% of ALL taxes collected by the State.  The top 20% of taxpayers paid 90% of all income taxes collected, and 51% of all taxes.  These are the folks you do not want leaving California.

     By allowing Californians to write off state income taxes on their federal taxes, the federal government has helped California disguise its high rates and, more importantly, provided a massive federal subsidy for California’s out of control spending.  It has meant that ultimately the taxpayers of prudently run states have been paying for California’s largess.  Reducing the state income tax write off exposes these practices and puts more of the tax burden on California’s productive middle and upper middle-class citizens. 

     California’s response to the limit on income tax write-offs is the creation of a “non-profit” that Californians would be forced to “contribute” to while also paying our new road tax, new marijuana tax, higher toll fees for crossing state bridges, and the highest sales and gasoline taxes in the country.  This year’s tax planning includes growing the secret Cap and Trade tax, an attempt to add sales taxes to services and the rewriting of Proposition 13.  Nothing will satiate California’s governments desire for new taxes.

     Property Tax write-off

     If you are a California resident you have heard the whining by many Californian elected officials over Proposition 13.  This whining has become a movement to overthrow Proposition 13, first by a split roll taxation, then a full rewrite. Both would be devastating to California businesses and residents.

     In reality, the high price of housing has made Proposition 13 null and void already. High housing costs have been created by government through environmental programs/laws, inequity “solutions”, land use regulations, housing element laws, regionalization, zoning laws, permit processes and numerous fees and other charges.  The result has been the increase in housing costs that is two and a half to three times the cost of housing in other states.  Paying $800,000 for that $400,000 house doubles the property tax the homeowner pays while leaving the 1% rate untouched. Clever.

     In the meantime, government has raised the taxes and fees on everything else.  My property tax bill has fourteen other government taxes, fees and bonds charges.  These charges/taxes and the fact that most houses in California have been sold, and therefore, reassessed, more than once since Prop. 13 passed in 1978 have more than made up for Proposition 13. 

     California governments want and need high housing costs to embed and pay for a multitude of social justice, entitlement, legacy, and other programs.  High housing costs creates the “need” AND the funding for “affordable housing” programs, homeless programs, rent control, and other social programs that rob the middle class and siphon off half the money to bureaucrats to run the programs and grows the underclass necessary to benefit from the programs.  The Government made housing crisis is the engine of growth for government in California

     Reducing the mortgage write off will help bring sanity back into the housing market, make housing more available and affordable for middle and lower-class Californians and get government’s destructive presence somewhat out of our most basic need.

     Where do we go from here?

    Government has been “solving” the homeless, the housing and the transportation crises for more than a decade.  The result is that all are worse than ever.

    Federal government tax reform and reductions in regulations show us where to go to truly solve these problems.  January’s Federal job report shows us that unemployment is at its lowest rate in a decade and Black and Hispanic unemployment is at their lowest rate in history.  The Stock market grew more than 5000 points in 2017 (a record) and surpassed 25,000 points on the Dow and 7,000 at the Nasdaq this month (both records). 

    Private construction spending hit an all-time high in 2017 (Commerce Dept. report) and U.S. Manufacturing reached record growth last year (Institution of Supply Management report), fueled by domestic business investment”. 

    The path is clear.  The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association believes the creation of wealth, not the redistribution of wealth, benefits everyone.  We recommend an across the board reduction in state and local taxes and a reduction and simplification of regulations.

    It is time create a robust economy and to turn this failure known as California government around.

    Hal Bray


    Mr. Bray is President of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, East County Chapter. The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting good government at affordable cost.  Mr. Bray is also co-founder of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan grass roots citizens action committee formed to solve the unequal funding of fire and emergency medical services existing in Eastern Contra Costa County.  

  • 23 Oct 2017 3:05 PM | Anonymous
    By David Kersten
    Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy
    Monday, October 23rd, 2017

    A recent report by the highly regarded Calmatters.com found that the State of California has been on a “taxing binge” over the past few years, having enacted a whole slew of recent tax increases such as the “gas tax,” the “cap and tax” energy taxation scheme.

    The Calmatters.com analysis found that the recent state tax increases “plus a slew of new local government levies and hikes in personal income and taxable retail sales, will raise total tax collections to just under $300 billion, or $50 billion more than they were just two years ago,” according to the report.

    For the complete article click here.

  • 02 Oct 2017 4:25 PM | Anonymous

    embers of a citizens-oversight committee questioned how the West Contra Costa school district uses bond money to construct or improve school facilities. They raised concerns about the district over-spending its budget and draining funds slated for future projects.

    Despite the district’s desire to align projects with the budget, an independent investigation echoed these concerns, calling several of the district’s budgeting practices “high risk.”

    Currently, the district has an estimated $362 million available in the next five years for projects such as building new schools or renovating classrooms. But the district has planned projects beyond, which will cost more than $1 billion.

    For complete article, click here.

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