Michelle Steel, the Republican Vice Chair of California’s Board of Equalization – an independent tax gathering arm of state government – found a pernicious little wood tax tucked away in Democratic Governor Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal (emphasis below is mine):
The new tax is expected to raise $30 million annually, but that revenue won’t go to the general fund or to debt payments. According to the revised budget, lumber tax revenue will go to support the regulatory activities of the Departments of Forestry and Fire Protection, Fish and Game, Conservation, and the State Water Resources Control Board related to Timber Harvest Plan review.
California’s forest practice regulations are the most restrictive of any state in the nation. Regulatory compliance costs California forest-landowners more than 10 times what it costs similar companies in Oregon and Washington. According to a recent Cal Poly San Luis Obispo study, “California’s regulatory environment is having the unintended consequences of harming forest health,” by making it so difficult to manage timberland that owners are selling their land to housing developers.
Excessive environmental regulations are turning our forests into suburbs. Yet, instead of saving tax dollars by reducing regulation, the governor has chosen to compound the problem by increasing the funding of an inefficient regulatory program.
California tax policy: deforesting the woodlands in order to save them.
H/T: Jon Fleischman’s FlashReport