Monday, May 10, 2010

California drops the ball on collecting revenue

We are constantly reminded that government at all levels is far from perfect. Officials rarely do what we ask of them and seemingly always find ways to further complicate matters they delve into.

This realization can be found anywhere. In California, there is a glaring example of state government “dropping the ball” when it comes to holding everyone who gets behind the wheel accountable for poor decisions.

The Golden State has 1.5 million government workers who are able to avoid paying certain tickets.

This loophole was created by a state law that allows police officers and other state workers to obtain confidential license plates. Intended to protect officials from criminals, the list of jobs included has expanded through the years to include everything from county supervisors and park rangers to museum guards.

As a result, these government workers can get around paying parking tickets, toll violations and red-light camera fines. The reason is simple. The home addresses are not displayed in the Department of Motor Vehicles’ public-access records. So, these government employees have less incentive to follow the same rules as everyone else.

And then there is the glaring example of how the California government is wasting an opportunity to collect revenue available to them. There isn’t much incentive for constituents to allow such programs as automated enforcement to continue when the state botches the collection of fines. And there is even less reason for them to sign off on supplying new sources of revenue when the state cannot collect existing revenue streams.

Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, is trying to right the wrong. He is pushing a bill in the California Assembly that would take steps to ensure the state gets its money from government workers.

With the state and local governments in a funding crisis, the action is welcome news. Although closing the loophole isn’t going to solve the financial problem in the state, it is definitely a part of the problem that must be addressed.

If lawmakers can solve this and other problems before them everyone would be much better off.