As of late Monday the web site for the (all rise) Commission on the 21st Century Economy still said the panel would report its recommendations “on or before September 20.” But having blown that deadline along with countless others, panel chair Gerald Parsky is scheduled to unveil the final product in Sacramento today.
Although Parsky repeatedly gave his word that the commission would only suggest that the Legislature and governor “consider” certain changes, it was reported late Monday that, “A draft copy of the report obtained by The Associated Press said the commission will recommend California change its personal income tax structure to reduce the burden on the wealthy.
“It also recommends replacing the state sales and corporate taxes with a new business levy that taxes net receipts, in an attempt to tax the value of all goods and services produced by businesses in the state,” AP reported.
The commission — having split along ideological lines a few months ago — hasn’t done much to keep the public in the loop and it was not clear late Monday how many commissioners have signed off on the report or, for that matter, whether it includes legislative language or who was invited to the roll out.
Ashley Snee, a PR consultant listed as the contact person on the press release about the event didn’t return Calbuzz calls or emails about how the report handled the deep rifts on the commission, but a Capitol source who has closely followed the meanderings of the panel told us, “they didn’t even tell the commissioners who aren’t signing the report about the event” in advance.
Small wonder. With Parsky and his conservative allies clinging to support for the extremely controversial Business Net Receipts Tax as their centerpiece for their agenda for rewriting the California Tax Code, liberal commissioners bailed out on the plan, particularly when their own tax reform ideas – like a split roll, a carbon tax and extending the sales tax to services as well as goods – received short shrift from the chairman. In the real world, it wasn’t just the libs who bailed – there was zero support for the BNRT from business and industry, either.
As a political matter, Parsky’s failure to achieve anything near consensus on the task handed them by Gov. Schwartzmuscle, Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Darrell Steinberg last winter makes it likely that, in the end, their labors will have as much as effect as publishing poetry.
Here are a few questions offered up by Calbuzzer Jean Ross of the California Budget Project:
1) Has the Commission estimated the distribution impact of the package as a whole – specifically the new business net receipts tax – what assumptions were made in making these estimates and who did them?
2) The document presented by Commission staff at the 9/14 meeting in Berkeley assumes that half of the BNRT is “paid for” by “nonresidents and federal offsets” how was this estimate reached?
3) How do you respond to the argument by a number of tax policy experts that there are significant legal questions as to the state’s ability to impose the BNRT on firms outside of California?
4) If legislative language is included as part of the package, was that draft made available to the public and did Commissioners ever discuss the draft in an open, noticed meeting? Was the draft language voted on by the Commission?
5) Did any commissioner initially refused to sign the report and then change his/her mind based on discussions outside of a public, noticed meeting? How many votes and whose changed?
What did she know and when did she know it: Meg Whitman’s decision to stonewall inquiries about her shameful voting record, instead of going the modified, limited hang-out route, as Joe Mathews suggested here, means that her campaign will continue to be beset by questions fly-specking her past statements and claims on the issue.
Exhibit A: Back in February, eMeg told the Republican convention that she’d been registered to vote as a “decline to state” since 1998; last week the Sacramento Bee demolished that claim with their investigative report showing that he hadn’t registered as anything until 2002.
On Saturday, Whitman press flack Sarah Pompei was asked to reconcile her boss’s earlier comment with, well, the facts. “She misspoke, and it was wrong,” Pompei.
Well, that’s at least half right.
In fact, Whitman’s “misspoke” claim about being registered in 1998 was not some off-hand comment –- it was included in the formal speech she gave to the convention, as shown in a text of her prepared remarks that “The Ticket” posted on the L.A. Times at the time:
As you may have read, I’ve been a registered “decline to state” voter since 1998. As the CEO of a public company, with an enormous community of users and employees covering every imaginable political persuasion, I purposely made the decision to register DTS. I felt it was the right thing to do given my role at eBay. Once my eBay tenure was coming to an end and I became more involved with (Mitt Romney’s) campaign, I changed my registration back to Republican.
So far from being an accidental misstatement, the claim that she was registered in 1998 was written into the speech, embroidered, fabulized and, presumably, vetted and rehearsed. Bottom line: lying isn’t misspeaking.
The story that just keeps on giving: You’ve got your choice of You Tube presentations about the eMeg’s big mess and her one-for-the-ages press conference debacle on the subject at the state Republican convention.
We like this one mainly because of the frightful frown that Pete Wilson puts on near the end watching eMeg’s tortured performance and this one just because it’s reported straight-up by our old friend Dave Bryan, now with LA’s CBS2, who’s almost as old as us.
But you gotta hand it to Steve Poizner’s campaign team, for posting this You Tube ad shortly after the Bee’s publication of the story that started the whole controversy:
More on eMeg: One of Whitman’s verbal tics is to say, “Thank you for that” at the end of an answer to a hostile question, which she used at least three times during her Dan Quayle-like Saturday avail: For example:
REPORTER: …you were registered in 1998, and there’s no record of that. Are you inferring that you did? The Bee reported after you were not registered at all before 2002.
WHITMAN: So when I came back to California, I registered in 2002, so I don’t know where that came from, but I registered in 2002 when I came back to California, so thank you for that.”
REPORTER: We’re just trying to get some sort of sense of your frame of mind.
WHITMAN: I understand, and I’ve said what I’m going to say about it, so thank you for that, Jack.
The ploy is clear -– a cool-hand CEO’s way of demonstrating she’s always got the upper hand by acting all gracious and grateful that she’s been given the chance to answer a question she was just dying to address.
And yet, Calbuzz strongly suspects that “Thank you for that” is not what is actually inside eMeg’s thought balloons when she mouths those words. What, then, is this would-be governor thinking?
a) Who are these dreadful people, and why do I have to pay attention to them, again?
b) Nice blue blazer, loser – why don’t you get a haircut?
c) It’s no wonder newspapers are going out of business.
d) Fuck you.
e) Fuck you very much.
Lede of the week: If Gavin Newsom somehow fails to become governor in 2010, the opening of the Matier and Ross column in Monday’s Chron sums up the reason why:
“Mayor and new daddy Gavin Newsom will unveil a plan to provide every San Francisco kindergartener with a $50 “savings bond” for college – just as soon as he can figure out how to make sure illegal immigrants can qualify.”
They’re just sayin’.
Meanwhile, a new poll from Rasmussen shows Crusty the General Brown beating all the GOP contenders but Prince Gavin sucking wind behind them all.