Putting a brake on school bond debt
No one seriously disputes the need for safe, modern schools. But it's next to impossible to justify loans requiring taxpayers to fork over $10 in interest for every dollar borrowed. Just as bad are deferred payments that stick future taxpayers with the bills for today's building projects.
A bill approved by the Assembly Education Committee would put some modest restrictions on capital appreciation bonds, one of the instruments used to defer payments. AB 182 would limit debt service to four times the amount borrowed and limit the life of the bonds to 25 years.
Treasurer Bill Lockyer, meanwhile, is raising questions about the relationships between school districts and companies they hire to run bond campaigns and, if voters approve, to underwrite the bonds. Lockyer wants a legal opinion from the attorney general. We look forward to reading it.
Hit with an extra tax bite
Denmark, Sweden and Spain provide citizens with free, online tax returns. They're filled out in advance and can simply be returned. They can be adjusted or rejected by taxpayers who want to fill out their own. In the U.S., support for such a system has come from Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. But it's never gotten off the ground.
For that, you can thank the makers of TurboTax, according to a report from National Public Radio and Pro Publica, a nonprofit investigative reporting foundation. Intuit, which sells TurboTax software, has spent $11.5 million on lobbying in Washington in the past five years, targeting bills that would have allowed taxpayers to file returns for free. The bills went nowhere.
Ag-gag masquerades as protection