[OPINION] With rising inflation, just say no to California’s costly Plastics Tax Initiative

Photo by Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

LIVING in California, in good economic times, is an expensive endeavor. But, with rapid inflation and runaway home prices, the state is quickly becoming unaffordable for all but those at the top of the income pyramid. The nation’s highest gas prices, shortages of essential consumer items and rising grocery bills make it increasingly harder for working families in the Golden State to make ends meet.

Despite this reality, special interests have plans that, unless stopped, will make our current economic situation even worse. One such example is a statewide tax initiative on this November’s ballot. Unless defeated, it will raise the cost of living by nearly $9 billion – costs borne by families and small businesses.

Thankfully, voters will decide the fate of the Plastics Tax Initiative, a new tax on plastic products, and a series of complex regulations that targets businesses and consumers.

While the initiative allegedly reduces plastic waste, it’s doubtful that its lofty goals will be achieved. For years the state has mismanaged its recycling programs despite spending billions of dollars while recycling has decreased. This initiative neither substantially improves the recycling rate nor benefits consumers. Instead, it will raise costs for businesses and consumers when we can least afford it. The scope of what’s covered under the proposed tax is immense. It targets virtually all consumer products, from the food containers in the grocery store to diaper packaging.

One estimate highlights that the average family of four will pay $900 per year in higher costs. Given how expensive everything is now (even more expensive than last month because of inflation), most families simply cannot handle the additional burden of increased costs.

That’s why the National Asian American Coalition opposes this measure. We’ve enthusiastically joined a diverse coalition that is strongly opposed to the Plastics Tax Initiative.

Ballot box lawmaking is a risky endeavor. By circumventing the traditional legislative process, major flaws in special interest-drafted initiatives can’t be changed. Consumers typically bear the brunt of such drafting “errors.” The Plastics Tax is no exception.

One of our biggest concerns with the measure is its over-reliance on a state bureaucracy that has failed to do its job: CalRecycle. For years, this agency has mismanaged the state’s beverage container recycling program. CalRecycle has been unable to detect fraud and has held onto huge recycling deposit surpluses that are supposed to be refunded to consumers. Ignoring this checkered past, the Plastics Tax Initiative vests even greater authority to CalRecycle to create new programs and charge unlimited administrative expenses for implementing these new taxes.

Without radically reforming CalRecycle, all Californians will pay billions in higher taxes with little to show for it and little assurance that our tax dollars will be used as promised.

Worse still, the tax will expand inequality. Underserved communities are already hurt by rising prices. The initiative will not only raise the cost of food, but it will also cost Californians good-paying jobs. More than 40,000 California workers employed in the plastic manufacturing industry would likely see their jobs vanish. These are middle-class jobs that do not require a college degree. The initiative’s maze of mandates will squeeze in-state employers and displace these jobs to factories outside California – a lose-lose on all fronts.

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The Plastics Tax proponents hope we ignore the massive tax increase with the promise of a better tomorrow – if only we agree to their “solution” that will increase the cost of our food, ship jobs to other states and radically grow a government agency that’s not succeeding today with a smaller mandate.

California voters need to get the facts about this tax measure and its harmful provisions. We have time before the November 2022 election. It’s time to get informed and educated.

* * *

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

* * *

Faith Bautista is the president and CEO of National Asian American Coalition, a HUD-approved, program-oriented nonprofit that provides housing counseling, small business lending, and technical assistance services to minority and low-income populations. She also serves as the founder and president of National Diversity Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization comprised of community organizers, faith-based leaders, and business owners working collectively for greater financial equality and empowerment for underserved communities.

Faith Bautista

Faith Bautista is the President & CEO  National Asian American Coalition, a nonpartisan nonprofit community organization. Faith Bautista is the CEO and President of the largest pan Asian American non-profit in the nation that is both a HUD-approved home counseling organization and focuses on doubling Asian American homeownership opportunities.

The Filipino-American Community Newspaper. Your News. Your Community. Your Journal. Since 1991.

Copyright © 1991-2024 Asian Journal Media Group.
All Rights Reserved.