The state of California is looking to its taxpayers to help solve its mammoth $42-billion budget problem.
Word is coming from Sacramento that lawmakers, at budget loggerheads for months now, are moving closer to a solution. But that solution may mean that living and driving in California is going to cost significantly more.
One idea being fueled in Sacto is a 12-cent per gallon tax hike on gasoline. For suffering drivers who have seen some relief at their neighborhood service station, this could mean another few dollars each time they fill-up.
Attorney Ben Hecht doesn't like the idea.
"I think it's lousy. I think it stinks," Hecht said.
And that is only the beginning. Lawmakers are also thinking of reaching into your pockets for more money every time you buy anything, by kicking up the state sales tax 1 percent. That would make the sales tax in Los Angeles County nearly 10 percent, among the highest in the country.
Add to that a hike in the state personal income tax, and a near doubling of the vehicle license fee to 1.5 percent of the value of your car, which could cost drivers hundreds more each time they have to register their car. Some analysts are saying this will mean the proposals would cost the average California family of four about a thousand bucks a year.
Doing the math on the purchase of a $20,000 car with a 20-gallon gas tank, you could expect to pay nearly $2,000 in sales tax, $300 more each time you register the car, and $2.40 more in taxes each time you turn that "E" on the dashboard to an "F."
Tom Hudson of the California Taxpayer Protection Committee says, "this is the worst possible time to raise taxes on California taxpayers. We're in the middle of a recession, possibly the worst recession in our lifetimes, and this is not the time to be raising taxes."
Legislators are facing the possibility of massive state layoffs if they can't agree on a budget. Democrats don't want to anger labor unions by negotiating away overtime regulations and benefits, and Republicans aren't too happy about tax increases.
And while the final budget is still being debated, it is certain whatever the final outcome, there will be a lot of unhappy Californians.