Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
What fertile ground for the lexicographers at the Blind Partisan’s Dictionary!
We refer to the following from an actual letter from the University of California Student Association, and we don’t find anything in it that is humorous.
“Dear Supporter,” it says, “This is a big week for California students and their families. The State Senate is deciding the fate of the Middle Class Scholarship, AB 1500 and 1501 (Peréz), on the Senate floor. As you may know, this legislation closes a tax loophole for out of (sic) state corporations and funnels the billion dollar savings into the Middle Class Scholarship fund, which will cover nearly 2/3rds the cost of tuition for UC and CSU students and their families making under $160K a year. …”
We repair to the Blind Partisan’s Dictionary:
Tax loophole: n. – a provision in tax law that allows a taxpayer legally to escape payment of certain imposts, provided said taxpayer can show legislators it is in their personal interest to make such allowance.
Thus, in California, certain corporations doing business in multiple states have been able to calculate their taxes in a beneficial way. But such corporations – specifically banks, savings and loans, agriculture and “extractive” businesses (oil, natural gas, minerals) – clearly haven’t been greasing the proper palms of late.
So, Assembly Speaker John Perez is pushing through Assembly Bills 1500 and 1501, which would, respectively, eliminate the multi-state “loophole” and use excess funds derived thereby to create a “Middle Class Scholarship Fund.” And this brings us back to the Blind Partisan’s Dictionary, to look up:
Middle class: n. – an elastic term, applied by politicians, when convenient, to various income segments.
For example, in California, Gov. Jerry Brown pushes the segment’s upper limit to $250,000 per year in his tax-raising ballot Proposition 30. Yet under AB 1501, “middle class” would apply to family incomes of up to only $160,000 a year. Most of the middle class would be delighted to earn even the lower figure – and would feel upper class if they did.
Anyway, in a masterpiece of obfuscatory “legis-speak,” Perez’ AB 1501 would take the above-named, multi-state industries and apply California taxation to all their income by “multiplying business income by a fraction, the numerator of which is the property factor plus the payroll factor plus the sales factor, and the denominator of which is three.”
In this way, a legislature closes a “loophole” by clogging it with impenetrable verbiage.
It should not be surprising that California students should find Perez’ bills appealing. After all, these bills have the potential to cut annual fees for the California State University system from around $6,000 to about $2,000, and University of California fees from more than $12,000 to about $4,000.
What the students do not understand is that nothing comes through government without strings attached.
Beyond the obvious, vote-buying aspects of the Perez bills, and their obvious, anti-business character, lies their more insidious goal. This is the creation of a new, dependent class. It will be peopled by college graduates, who will be expected to show their gratitude by supporting the left-wing political agenda morally and financially.
Let us predict that the Legislature – which has lusted after control of the university systems’ huge budgets – will next seek their beneficiaries’ support for moves to co-opt the University of California Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees of the California State University system.
Perez’ legislation is among the more cynical efforts of the Democrat-controlled state Assembly and Senate.
Unfortunately, given the degraded education Golden State scholars have received before and during their university careers, the kids are likely to fall for it.
“Adults” who run the universities will go for it as well, as long as it does not touch the bloated and overpaid higher education bureaucracies or faculty salaries.
The state’s intelligentsia, in fact, are profoundly self-serving and, as a result, profoundly anti-intellectual and profoundly short-sighted.
Perez’ bill was blocked – narrowly – in the California State Senate.
The Assembly speaker issued a press release, saying, “Today was an opportunity for the State Senate to join the Assembly in approving tax fairness for California businesses and college opportunity for middle class families. Unfortunately, even though most Senate Democrats supported the Middle Class Scholarship Act, we could not reach agreement with Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) or Senate Republicans that would achieve the two-thirds vote necessary.
“It is disturbing that Senator Correa and so many Republicans would refuse to stand up for the middle class and instead continue to support a tax giveaway that favors out-of-state companies over our own.”
Disturbing? It is heartening that at least one Democrat found creation of a new, dependent class unacceptable.