Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Aug. 26, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

It was just coincidence that Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a billion-dollar tax proposal – which he said would improve California’s struggling economy – on the same day that the Legislature’s budget analyst released a long report on the state’s infrastructure crisis.

It was, however, a timely juxtaposition.

Brown was responding to economic woes as politicians often do, with a news conference, a quick-hit plan and assurances that it will make things better.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, however, was indirectly telling politicians what they should do to improve long-term prosperity – upgrade transportation, education, water and flood-control systems.

It’s very questionable whether Brown’s proposal to change the way corporations are taxed, give tax credits to employers for new hires and grant manufacturers a sales tax break can be enacted, since it needs some Republican votes.

Brown and Democratic legislators implied unmistakably that one motive is to show voters that they’re feeling their economic pain, while setting up Republicans for blame in next year’s legislative elections if they block the tax swap. Brown also wants business support for a tax increase ballot measure next year.

Even were Democrats’ motives pure as winter snow in the Sierra, however, and even were their plan to become law, its economic impact is very questionable. Independent studies of employment subsidies, such as the “enterprise zone” program, indicate that their lasting benefits are scant.

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