California Forum

As California weighs wildfire prevention, only you can prevent taxes from heating up

An historic schoolhouse burns as the Carr Fire tears through Shasta, Calif., Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
An historic schoolhouse burns as the Carr Fire tears through Shasta, Calif., Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) AP

The unbelievable devastation wrought by the Northern California fires of 2017 has given way to an inspiring rebirth. Santa Rosa, ground zero for the damage, is alive with the sound of skill saws and the constant rapping of hammers as homeowners – by the thousands – rebuild their lives and homes.

Those fires are mercifully out, but their effects will be far reaching and spread across the entire state. In their aftermath, another set of problems is smoldering in Sacramento, challenging utility ratepayers, the insured, and taxpayers for years to come.

You will pay one way or another. Your electricity rates, insurance rates, and – of course – your taxes, will be heading higher as California Democrats pull out their single, multipurpose solution to every problem.

The Legislature has established a committee to look at a bill offering solutions to our wildfire problem and the costs and liabilities for fire damages. That sounds good until you remember this is the same Legislature that didn’t invest in adequate forest management, even as the state’s general fund grew by tens of billions of dollars in the past six years.

It sounds good until you remember that Gov. Jerry Brown, who will ultimately sign any fire-related legislation, seems more concerned with preventing .0001 degree fluctuations in global temperature 100 years from now and European popularity than he is with the pressing issues affecting Californians.

With that in mind, here’s one easy prediction from the committee: Your costs are going up.

You will pay one way or another. Your electricity rates, insurance rates, and – of course – your taxes, will be heading higher as California Democrats pull out their single, multipurpose solution to every problem. Maybe we’ll even see a reintroduction and expansion of the illegal fire tax that was supposed to help with wildfires in the first place. (How did that work out?).

In the Resistance Legislature’s California, every problem is an opportunity to put more fees, charges, and other costs on the backs of people working harder than ever but falling farther behind.

Our firefighters are doing everything possible to save lives and property right now, and they are a symbol of what a focused government can do for the people. But walls of flame ripping through Shasta County, sending people from their homes, possibly forever, are a blazing symbol of a very expensive government neglecting the state’s basic priorities.

Republican Sen. Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties. Reach him at at senator.gaines@senate.ca.gov.

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