Sales Tax, Use Tax, and Amazon: What's All the Fuss About?

The Lamorinda Democratic Club's monthly meeting on Thursday, September 8 will feature a discussion about “Sales Tax, Use Tax & Amazon: What’s All the Fuss About?” with David Clark, a Partner in the Novato CPA firm of Boerio, Clark & Magid CPAs, LLP.

The meeting will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette. The club's social hour will begin at a new time of 7:00 p.m., with a business meeting at 7:15 p.m., and Clark 's presentation to begin at 8 p.m. There is a $5 charge at the door to help the club cover meeting expenses.

The state legislature, led by our Assemblymember, Nancy Skinner, voted to enact e-fairness tax legislation as part of the state budget this past June to force large internet retailers to collect sales tax. Skinner noted that the legislation was designed to require out-of-state online only retailers to collect the same sales tax California businesses are required to collect.

Amazon.com has already spent $3 million on an effort to force a referendum on the proposed law.

An attorney licensed to practice in California and a board member of the Lamorinda Democratic Club, Mr. Clark has long had an interest in sales and use tax. He testified before the Steering Committee of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project in 2000. He has been active in the American Bar Association Section of Taxation, State and Local Taxes Committee for years. He was appointed to the California Commission on Uniform State Laws in June 2008 and re-appointed in December 2010. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Golden Gate University School of Law LL.M Tax Program.

Where California's Tax Dollars Go

The California Budget Project has released an informative report explaining how California's tax dollars are spent. As the brief explains, the state budget is really a local budget:

More than 70 cents out of every dollar spent through the state budget goes to local communities, health care providers, and individuals.

That's right: only about 29 cents of every state tax dollar actually support what normally would be considered "state operations."

More than 50 cents of every state dollar goes to education, nearly 30 cents to health and human services, more than 10 cents goes to corrections, leaving only nine cents left to support other key services and institutions. Meanwhile, only corrections spending has grown significantly faster than overall spending since 1980-81, with K-12 education spending slightly ahead of the average spending growth.

Far too many Californians do not understand these facts. That is one of the reasons our state budget debates are so dysfunctional. Cuts to the state actually mean cuts in our neighborhoods. To read this important budget brief, please click here to see the report in pdf format.

Governor Jerry Brown Releases YouTube Budget Update

Governor Jerry Brown tonight released an update about the state budget negotiations on YouTube. You can watch it below:

In the 2:30 video, Brown lobbied for Republican votes to extend current taxes by putting them to a vote. The Governor said:

"I'm really perplexed why a package of this magnitude and this permanence cannot be allowed for you, the people, to decide on…"

The Constitutional deadline to pass a state budget is Wednesday, June 15.

Today's Teacher Layoffs Threaten Tomorrow's Classrooms

The Los Angeles Times' Larry Gordon has a story about how years of pink slips has lead to a dramatic fall in the number of people training to be teachers. As Gordon explains:

Education experts are warning of a shortage of new teachers in a few years as large numbers of baby boomers start to retire from teaching jobs and larger numbers of youngsters enter elementary school.

"It's a very dramatic decline," noted Dale Janssen, executive director of the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. "It's kind of difficult to encourage people to become teachers when every time this time of year they hear about 20,000 pink slips going out."

In California, the number of teaching credentials issued annually fell 29% during the last five years, from 28,039 in 2004-05 to 20,032 in 2009-10, according to a new report by the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The biggest decline, nearly a 50% drop during that period, was in the multiple subject credential usually required to teach elementary school youngsters, while some demand for high school math and science teachers remains.

The decisions we make today will have an impact well into the future. Who are the teachers going to be–not to mention the veteran teachers–in ten years as the bay boom generation retires after we've removed a generation of teachers through pink slips and kept another generation away from the profession?

What Can We Do in 2011? A Conversation with Asm. Nancy Skinner to Headline January 13 Club Meeting

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s first meeting of the year on Thursday, January 13, will feature our member of the California State Assembly, Nancy Skinner.

Our program will examine what we can expect in California politics and public policy in 2011 now that Democrats, led by Governor Jerry Brown, control all statewide Constitutional offices. Most important, we will try to plan for what we can do as a club to support these new public policy initiatives. 

The club's social hour will begin at its regular 6:30 p.m. start time at the Orinda Community Church, 10 Irwin Way, Orinda. We will begin our business meeting at 7:15 p.m. with announcements about upcoming events and special short notices of interest to local Democrats. Asm. Skinner's presentation will begin at 8 p.m.

Governor Brown will introduce his first state budget blueprint on Monday, January 10. Analysts expect that it will include a series of dire cuts to key program areas—including education and the state’s safety net. 

The Governor, and some people close to him, have hinted that Brown will call for a special election in late May or early June to ask California voters to, at a minimum, extend the current temporary taxes that will begin to expire this year as a way to help close a projected $28 billion budget gap. 

We can expect major efforts from those who oppose government to try to stop this effort. What can our club members do to support plans to protect core government services in this crisis? Are we ready to talk to our friends and neighbors? Write letters to the editor? Lobby our legislators—and get our friends to lobby those in other areas of the state?

As part of Asm. Skinner's presentation, the club’s leadership hopes you will join in a conversation and discussion to go into the details of what we can do as a club to support Governor Brown and our new Democratic statewide team.