To the editor: George Skelton is right when he says California's current tax structure is too volatile and in desperate need of an overhaul. Extending temporary tax increases has become all too common in Sacramento, and it doesn't surprise me that some government officials would like to extend Proposition 30. ("Don't extend tax-the-rich Prop. 30; overhaul the whole tax system," April 30)
Conversations about tax reform shouldn't start with adding new taxes; rather, they should start with how to make the state competitive again.
In addition to creating a more stable revenue source, real tax reform would reduce taxes and make them simpler. Instead of adding new taxes, we should explore how to get rid of taxes that hurt job creation. A broader sales tax could make sense if it allowed us to eliminate California's punitive income taxes and the Franchise Tax Board.
George Runner, Sacramento
The writer is vice chairman of the State Board of Equalization.
To the editor: The probability of Proposition 30 being extended by the voters is very high. The probability of our political leaders in Sacramento achieving tax reform is about the same as the proverbial ice cube surviving in hell.
Counting on tax reform and rejecting an extension of Proposition 30 will leave California's finances in the same state that we faced prior to the passage of Proposition 30, requiring funding cuts of billions of dollars per year paid primarily by the poor and the young.
Ideology may be nice, but the reality is that it won't put food on the table for the poor or give the young a fair shot at a good education.
Eddie Dawes, Hacienda Heights
To the editor: Skelton is apparently being serious when he claims that the tax system is "soaking the rich." He correctly notes that the top state income tax rate has risen from 10.3% to 13.3%.
But since 1981, the top federal income tax rate has fallen from 70% to 39.6%. It is completely reasonable for the state to take back some of the federal reduction to maintain quality service.
If some people who are making millions of dollars a year feel they are being overtaxed, there is a simple fix: They can give most of it to charity and still live comfortably.
Scott Peer, Glendale