Goldberg, Lenny

The California Tax Reform Association (CTRA) is a small non-profit organization based in Sacramento, California. CTRA has advocated for many years for fair taxes in the context of a healthy public sector. CTRA is primarily supported by labor, public health, education, and law enforcement groups.

How to Tax California’s One Percent

By Lenny Goldberg, California Tax Reform Association, and Roy Ulrich, Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley

Jerry Brown’s most recent budget proposal takes a meat ax to vital programs, including Medi-Cal and in home support services (IHHS). Why do we refer to them as “vital?” IHHS, for example, helps the disabled and seniors live safely in their own homes, thus obviating the need to place them in more costly outside facilities.

The governor’s plan represents the latest and worst in a spending cuts-only approach which California seems to specialize in. Reaping the benefits of this approach are the rich and powerful. The losers are those without high-priced lobbyists: the poor and the weak.

There are several potential revenue sources the rich and powerful have been able to avoid while other states, including a few very red ones, have seen fit to tap them.

Meg Whitman’s Projected Capital Gains Tax Windfall

By Lenny Goldberg
California Tax Reform Association

California appropriately treats all income the same for tax purposes, whether earned by wages, salaries, interest, dividends, rent or capital gains. Meg Whitman would continue to tax all income except capital gains. Her proposal to eliminate the tax on capital gains says, in effect, that your income is taxed and mine is not.

By not taxing her income and those of other wealthy investors, of course, the state loses between $4 and $5 billion yearly. 82% of that would go to the top 1% of taxpayers, and 95% to the top 5%, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.

Finally, A Real Debate On The Economics Of Taxation?

By Lenny Goldberg
California Tax Reform Association

Since a discussion of tax politics begins and ends quickly in the Capitol, let’s try talking economics instead. The Governor’s tax commission did the state the favor of opening the discussion of the economics of taxation, and Schwarzenegger called for “major, radical reform” in his State-of-the-State address. So perhaps an economics discussion will attract some real debate, instead of the “just say no” discussion which applies to all taxes, however rational they may be.

The Commission on the 21st Century Economy (COTCE) also did an inadvertent favor to the discussion through their proposal to tax the net receipts of all businesses, which the Governor called “great, great reform.”

Low Hanging Fruit in the Tax System: 10 Policies for $20 Billion

By Lenny Goldberg
California Tax Reform Association

With the state facing a current deficit and on-going yearly deficits of $20 billion, the survival of basic services and a healthy public sector is at stake. The following summarizes 10 measures which will have the least impact on economic growth and recovery - the “low-hanging fruit” in the tax system. (For a more complete listing of tax options go to

Governor Schwarzenegger stated that all the “low-hanging fruit” in the budget - that is, the easy cuts -- had been removed. But loopholes, untaxed windfalls, tax breaks with no benefits, taxes on the very rich and sin taxes, the taxes with little or no impact on economic recovery, have not been cut at all. For broader-based taxes, the state can maintain some part of the previous increases.

Alternative Budget Proposal Pushes For Reform Rather than Simply Cuts

Lenny-Goldberg.gifBy Lenny Goldberg
Executive Director
California Tax Reform Association

The California Tax Reform Association made a series of recommendations on revenues for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 budgets, here is their proposal.

I. Double (or more) all revenue projections below. No revenue item is too small to consider, because of the loss of federal matching funds. For example, collecting $35 million from conformity to federal back-up withholding is worth at least $70 million in program, and, given 2-1 matches for some programs, may be worth $105 million.