Observations on California and its politics
By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
April 29, 2017 – 2:00 PM

Tax more, spend more and regulate more.

As state legislators completed their initial committee reviews of bills last week, it became evident that this year’s session may be the most liberal in California history.

A single-payer health care system, which could cost more than $250 billion a year, is emblematic of hundreds of liberal measures, or “progressive,” as those on the political left prefer to be known, in the works.

The Legislature has already approved one multibillion-dollar tax increase for highway repairs and other transportation services and a number of others are pending, including one that would impose a $4-plus billion tax on inheritances, should the Republicans controlling Washington repeal the federal estate tax.

The most far-reaching would impose sales taxes on services, although it’s not likely to move anytime soon.

Opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency permeates the Legislature and has sparked a number of bills, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s measure to make California, in effect, a sanctuary state to protect the state’s two-plus million undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Anti-Trump sentiment also fuels measures to solidify state-level anti-pollution laws in the face of White House efforts to scale back federal regulation – especially the state’s strident efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to not only tighten mileage standards for cars, despite efforts to roll back federal-level rules, but seeks renewal of the state’s cap-and-trade system of regulating carbon emissions.

The latter is just one test of the Democratic supermajorities in both legislative houses, giving the party the power, at least on paper, to pass measures requiring two-thirds votes.

The supermajorities were in play in the transportation tax bill, although the defection of one Democrat in the Senate meant leaders had to persuade, via concessions, one Republican to back it.

Brown sought cap-and-trade reauthorization last year, but ran afoul of a bloc of moderate Democrats and had to settle for greenhouse gas legislation that lacked reauthorization.

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