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Senator Tom Berryhill – “Illegal Fire Tax Finally Suspended”

Written by Senator Tom Berryhill, R-Stanislaus

Several years ago, I fought hard as urban elites imposed a fire tax on those of us who live in rural areas.

As they shamelessly singled out and burdened an already struggling part of the state, I did everything I could to a give rural folks a voice in a Legislature dominated by urban representatives.

But it’s hard to get people who never leave the city to care about anything east of I-5, so when the recent cap-and-trade negotiations were taking place, I knew this was the only time they would listen.

Do I like cap-and-trade? Of course not. But I do see it as a more reasonable way to ensure my folks had cleaner air without driving small businesses and jobs out of California.

The reality is that the aggressive cap on emissions was already law – a law passed over my strong objections.

But how we meet that cap is not is not already law. So I was left with a choice: either to join this negotiation and make sure the deal causes the least amount of harm to the folks I represent, or to leave the regulations up to the unaccountable bureaucrats.

My Senate district has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and some of the worst air pollution. Small businesses, farmers, and people like you and me just want the government to stay out of our lives. I’m in Sacramento to represent those concerns in a Legislature dominated by big-government liberals.

The reality is, if this cap-and-trade deal hadn’t passed, our gas prices would have gone up by way more than a dollar a gallon. Those who work hard to grow and process our food would have been driven out of the state. And many of our mom-and-pop businesses would have been forced to close up shop.

So I kept an open mind and brought our voice to the negotiations. As a result, we will no longer be forced to pay a fire fee that never should have been forced on us in the first place. We will finally receive some help from the state to deal with the tree-mortality crisis we are facing, and the regulatory and tax burden our small businesses and farmers were facing was eased.

There was a lot about this deal I didn’t like, but if I had not joined the discussions, if I had just said “No,” rural California would have got nothing and cap-and-trade, or worse, would have become law anyway.

Now that this tough vote is behind me, I look forward to introducing a bill next year that will seek a refund for everyone who has ever been forced to pay the unfair fire tax. The upside of this cap-and-trade deal is that Democrats admitted the fire tax was a bad idea – so those who have been forced to pay it should be made whole.

It’s an honor to represent some of the hardest working people in the most beautiful Senate district in California. By coming to the table and negotiating in good faith, I was able to right several wrongs for rural California. I take this job seriously and believe I did the right thing by my folks.

Senator Tom Berryhill

California’s 8th District


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One comment

  1. State Senator Berryhill:
    I’m greatly troubled by your vote for Governor Brown’s Cap and Trade bill.
    Ginny Rapini encouraged me to tell you to return to your former political stance when you were first elected way back when; come back to the fold and redeem your tarnished reputation.
    Considered yourself encouraged.
    Your argument that you supported the bill to free your constituents of the unfair “fire tax” doesn’t hold water. Whereas those in your district may number in the thousands, thus saving $200 million, Cap and Trade will affect tens of millions and rob them of hundreds of billions of dollars.
    You’ve pennywise and pound foolish.
    The residents of California who know what Brown’s legislation means for the future are anything but encouraged, rather we’re firming up plans to move to another state that’s more free.
    The trickle of those leaving will soon become a flood. Businesses are being established to move Californians to where they wish to go.
    They sure don’t want to stay here.
    Many of us are aware that California is burdened by a $1 trillion unfunded liability in retirement benefits. Politicians have promised their supporters unbelievable – and undeliverable – rewards for having been state employees or other union members such as teachers. Those politicians have been termed out only to be replaced even more Left Progressives who ignore market principles and continue to promise more and more.
    Somebody has to pay the piper. The thing is, no one can.
    I believe those unfunded liabilities are the driving force for Governor Brown’s crazed efforts to raise taxes and fees upon the FREELOADERS of California, the very people who are under no obligation to stay where they are abused. He’s desperately abusing his powers as governor to come up with the funds to stave off statewide bankruptcy.
    It will do no good.
    I am living on fumes. California’s high cost of living has robbed me of more and more and more of what little disposable income I have. I have $10 to last the month. And when we figure in the high cost of crime that Brown’s prison policies have inflicted upon the good residents (FREELOADERS) of California, the only smart thing to do, for the sake of self-preservation, is to somehow, someway, come up with the money to move to Prescott.
    Ever so sincerely,
    David E Combs

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