By Jim Sanders
Published: Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
California lawmakers would repeal a controversial $150 fire prevention fee on rural homeowners in return for raising taxes on numerous out-of-state corporations under legislation proposed Friday.
The gut-and-amend proposal, Senate Bill 1040, came one week before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year.
Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande proposed the compromise in hopes of it winning support from at least two GOP senators, the minimum necessary for Democrats to pass a tax measure by the required supermajority in each house.
“This should deliver Republican votes, based on what they’ve said in the past,” said Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who is pushing for the corporate tax change to generate funds for college scholarships.
Pérez’s goal is to impose a formula called the “single sales factor” to raise $1 billion per year in new corporate tax revenue – about $90 million to repay losses from repealing the fire fee, the remainder to help pay tuition costs for students with household incomes of about $150,000 or less.
The compromise puts Republicans in the hot seat: To win repeal of the fire fee, they must swallow their opposition to Pérez’s bill, Assembly Bill 1500, targeting out-of-state corporations.
But Sen. Bob Huff, leader of the Senate Republican Caucus, turned thumbs down Friday. It makes no sense to support $1 billion in new corporate taxes in return for killing a fire fee that generates only a fraction of that revenue and can be reimposed at any time, spokesman Bill Bird said.
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