March 1, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Car Tax Zapped Davis; New Ones Won’t Touch Brown

By Tom Elias

There is no doubt that a 2003 car tax increase helped wreck Democrat Gray Davis’ career as governor of California. But a new batch of car taxes just passed by state legislators at the strong urging of Gov. Jerry Brown will not harm him or his legacy.

One reason for this is the timing: Davis was ousted in a recall election first proposed by this column less than one month after his reelection in 2002. He had almost three years remaining in his term by the time the recall came to a vote in October 2003.

Brown has less than two years left to serve; even if a recall movement arose, there could be no vote until sometime next year, when Brown would have only months left to serve. That calendar means there’s little point to this kind of exercise, so it won’t happen.

There are plenty of other differences, too. For one thing, corruption and not the car tax actually spurred the Davis recall, even if a lot of pundits with faulty memories now say otherwise. The column that began the recall drive (cited by national publications like the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor and by Ted Costa, the activist who filed the first recall papers) decried the fact turnout was lower by 1.5 million in the 2002 election when Davis won a second term than in the election that first made him governor in 1998.

“This happened,” the column said, “because of massive popular disgust with a political system that encouraged graft and corruption.” It went on to describe how beholden Davis was to his big donors, both labor unions and corporations. That prompted Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first promise on entering the recall election: that he would take no money from special interests.

This, of course, was the first of many broken Schwarzenegger promises.

Then there’s the fact that Davis acted alone when he raised car registration taxes in 2003, a move that unquestionably added oomph to the already-active recall. He activated a provision in California law allowing vehicle registration fees that have previously been lowered to be raised again by the governor in times of budget deficits. The state consistently ran large budget deficits at that time.

Brown, meanwhile, got his car tax increases passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, even winning over one Republican. So Jon Coupal, head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., was off the mark the other day when he likened the current scene to 2003.

In fact, road conditions are far worse now than 14 years ago. That’s partly because electric vehicles and highly efficient hybrids have dramatically cut use of gasoline and also the gas tax revenues used for road repair.

The new taxes will hit not only gasoline buyers, but also assess EVs that use no gas, which seems fair to most Californians because those cars and trucks use the same roads as all others, but until now have not paid a fair share for that privilege.

It’s also true that Davis was unpopular even before the recall focused attention on his negatives; his job approval ratings in various polls were in the low-40 percent range, far below Brown’s performance, now running in the high 50-percent range.

Sure, the well-documented corruption and sweetheart deals at state agencies like the Public Utilities and Energy commissions, both run entirely by Brown appointees, could provide reasons for voters to see Brown negatively. But polls suggest most voters have not cared much about any of that, at least not yet, and certainly not enough to seriously tar Brown’s reputation.

Then there’s the fact that most voters appear to believe major road repairs are vitally needed, while there was no such feeling in 2003.

So the scene today is vastly different from 14 years ago, and it’s serious overreach to suggest Brown might suffer a major backlash because of the new levies.

The bottom line: Brown’s reputation and legacy have not yet been tainted by the serious problems in some state agencies under his authority, so there’s no reason to believe new car taxes will harm him, either.

Thomas B. Elias, Columnist

in News
Related Posts

Construction Alert: Topanga Canyon Boulevard Faces Nightly Closures Starting March 4

March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024

Caltrans Announces 18-Mile Project Spanning Chatsworth to PCH Commuters in the Los Angeles area should prepare for significant delays as...

Film Review: Nyad

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

FILM REVIEWNYADRated PG-13121 MinutesReleased November 3rdOscar Nominations: Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actress “I failed many times, but I can...

Security Officers Being Deployed at Big Blue Bus Stations and Routes

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

The Guards will be provided by a firm with other security contracts with the city of Santa Monica  By Zach...

Leap Day Brings Once-in-Four-Year Deals at Popular Restaurants All Day Long

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’, and More Roll Out Special Offers to Mark the Occasion Leap Day, that rare additional day occurring...

Sweet Lady Jane’s Social Media Tease Continues As Locations Sport Hiring Notices

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Mysterious Posts Leave Fans Eager for the Return, But Questions Linger By Dolores Quintana After resurfacing on social media, the...

Upcoming Ice Cream Shop on Montana Ave. Will Serve Multitude of Vegan Flavors

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

The Company Has Come a Long Way Since Its Humble Beginnings as a New York City Food Truck By Zach...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Protest at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Protesters were there to protest the arrival of U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi Counter-protesters drove by in a car. @smmirrornews Pro-Palestine...

(Video) Restaurants Replace Glass Front Doors After Late Night Robbery Spree in Del Ray

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Seven restaurants and small businesses in Del Rey and Venice, including Nick the Greek and Dudley Market, were robbed. Council...

SMMUSD Appoints New Asst. Superintendent of Education Services

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Dr. Williamson Will Assume Her Role on March 8, Bringing 17 Years of Education Experience In a special board meeting...

Hollywood Royalty to Shine at 96th Oscars: First Wave of Star-Studded Presenter Lineup Unveiled

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Incredible Lineup of Actors and Previous Oscar Winners Announced Executive producer and showrunner Raj Kapoor, along with executive producers Molly...

Vote Smart, Vote Early: Streamlining Your 2024 Presidential Primary Experience in L.A. County

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Skip the Lines and Save Time – Your Guide to Early Voting Options  In preparation for the upcoming 2024 Presidential...

Iconic Venice Beach Sculpture and Landmark to be Removed, Returned to Artist’s Property

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Since the Money, Effort or Desire to Purchase the Piece Appears to Not Be There, the Artist Wants It Back...

(Video) Heartfelt candlelight vigils in Westchester and West Hollywood for Nex Benedict

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

The non-binary 16 year old student with Choctaw ancestry died in Owasso, Oklahoma after being beaten by three older high...

Sweet Lady Jane Sparks Hope of Return – Popular Bakery Hints at Reopening Across LA

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

After Abrupt Closures, Beloved Bakery Hints at a Comeback, Leaving Fans Intrigued  Sweet Lady Jane, a Los Angeles cake bakery...

Waymo’s LA Expansion Hits Roadblock: CPUC Temporarily Halts Self-Driving Company’s Plans

February 26, 2024

February 26, 2024

California Public Utilities Commission suspends Waymo’s service expansion for 120 days. California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has put a temporary...