Today I Helped the State of California Reduce Its $16 Billion Budget Deficit!

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It’s hard to grow that self-righteous feeling inside about “making a difference” when you believe in limited government. When I vote, I never have that rush of joy inspired by knowing I’m advancing justice by forcing someone to stop being selfish and surrender more money to the government. I never get to use my vote to shout “Yes!” to complicated, intrusive, costly new government programs that would surely make the world a better place if there was just more money available. And I never get to cast a righteous vote to outlaw and punish behavior that offends people, such as selling horse meat for human consumption at a restaurant or café.

But today I helped the State of California to reduce its newly-announced $15.7 billion budget deficit. Yes, I mailed a Form FTB 3522 LLC Tax Voucher to the Franchise Tax Board along with an $800 check from my fledging consulting firm, Labor Issues Solutions, LLC.

Every Limited Liability Company (LLC) that is doing business in California or that has articles of organization accepted or a certificate of registration issued by the California Secretary of State must pay an $800 annual tax.

I did a web search to see if anyone had ranked the states in terms of establishing and maintaining an LLC, because I suspected California was near or at the bottom. The Tax Foundation’s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index ranks California 48th, with New Jersey and New York squeaking by for the worst. I also learned that California has the highest annual tax and is the only state to charge a tax even if the LLC doesn’t make any money.

I keep hearing important politicians claim that California is quite supportive of small businesses and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, lying, or an exploitive capitalist. In response, this is my story:

On February 9, I submitted my Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) literally on paper, via the United States Postal Service, to the California Secretary of State to establish my new business, Labor Issues Solutions, LLC. I also had to pay a filing fee of $70. It was strange to actually write a check, using a pen, since I handle all of my financial transactions electronically nowadays. No new-fangled electronic stuff with bits and bytes at our highly efficient Secretary of State’s office!

So the state finally processed my application on April 6 and cashed my check. I guess I should be happy because I didn’t have to pay a bribe to dislodge it from the queue. California is still better than Russia as a place to do business!

I’m sure the Secretary of State’s office would claim that I had to mail the application on paper and wait two months for it to be processed because Californians aren’t giving enough of their money to the state to fund its essential services. This is what happens when one political party has a lock on all statewide offices: elected officials feel no sense of accountability to the people.

And I’m not kidding! In March 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated former state legislator Bruce McPherson, a Republican from Santa Cruz, to be Secretary of State after Democrat Kevin Shelley resigned the position in disgrace. McPherson was a true moderate and so well respected that he was confirmed unanimously in the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate. Nonetheless, Democrat Debra Bowen defeated him 45% to 42% in the November 2006 election.

In 2010, Bowen easily defeated Republican Damon Dunn, a young African-American Stanford graduate who played professional football in the NFL. So contrary to the usual claims about why Republicans don’t win statewide office, it doesn’t matter even if the Republican Party has a candidate for Secretary of State who is not identified as a conservative or a candidate who is not an “old white male” – the Democrat still wins in California.

And Bowen’s job performance doesn’t matter, either: an editorial in the Long Beach Press-Telegram on March 25 (“High-Tech California Lags Badly in Online Public Records Access”) asserts correctly that “the state’s 1990s-era website is as clunky and convoluted as it was when Democrat Debra Bowen took office in 2005 with a pledge to modernize it.”

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