Re the governor's budget proposals: As a smoker, I am ready to demand some equality when it comes to taxes. Recent research has shown that obesity is a major problem in the U.S., and you only need to go to a public gathering or to your nearby school to see this for yourself. The effect of obesity can be deadly -- just as cigarettes can be. I propose that the governor also consider a tax on servings of food; any one serving that contains over 500 calories should be taxed, just as a package of cigarettes is taxed.
With all the super-sized servings, not to mention the elegant servings of meat with sauces in fine restaurants, this tax would quickly take care of the state's budget shortfall. It might even eliminate the need for other tax increases and keep funding for schools at the minimal level it currently is. Rob Reiner was an exuberant spokesperson for increasing taxes on cigarettes the last time around; I wonder if he would be as exuberant over my proposal.
Susan F. Toman
I don't understand why gasoline and liquor taxes are untouched, except for possibly strong lobbying by those industries. The positive side effects of raising the gasoline tax would be more conservation, less smog, fewer wasted trips and a lot less traffic. Gasoline would still be cheap by European standards. And a tax on liquor would have more health benefits than a cigarette tax.
In consideration of California's ability to fund infrastructure in these difficult budget times, perhaps a perspective on the actual dollars we spend on our cars versus the roads to drive them on is in order. I have heard that a 10-cent increase in the gas tax would greatly facilitate repairs and improvements to our highways and to public transit. How much money is this to the "average" motorist? For a person who drives 15,000 miles annually in a car (truck, SUV?) that gets 15 mpg that is 1,000 gallons of gas -- and $100 of taxes each year. This pales compared with what we spend on car payments, insurance and upkeep for our cars and trucks.
I say we need more gas taxes, provided that they are directed toward our transportation needs. We really don't want to live and drive in a society without funds for good roads and public transportation.
Michael E. McGinley
California should add another fee on speeding tickets. The first 5 mph over the speed limit could be a no-fee cushion; 6 to 15 mph over, $100 per mph; and from 16 mph over, $200 per mph. The current penalties are clearly not working, and the people who endanger us every day might as well help the budget problem.
Solving a budget crunch is like getting into shape. It requires cutting down on fat (government spending) and getting more exercise (raising taxes). Davis may have prescribed a tough regimen, but it will definitely go a long way toward keeping California a powerhouse.
I have found a hybrid word I think aptly characterizes the current budget situation of the state and that of the nation under President Bush: economess.