Gaines pledges firm stance on taxes at Auburn meeting

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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State. Sen. Ted Gaines told a town-hall meeting audience Wednesday in Auburn that he’s willing to work across the legislative aisle with Democrats. But when it comes to raising taxes, Gaines said he’ll stay put. Veteran Loomis Town Councilman Walt Scherer told Gaines that the state Legislature’s inability to move past party lines during budget negotiations had created a disheartened population and was killing confidence in the private sector. “It makes us feel tomorrow is going to be worse than today,” Scherer said. Scherer suggested that Gaines should vote in favor of increases if they would help the state and its future. Gaines said that he couldn’t do such a thing “in good conscience.” “I ran on a campaign not to raise taxes,” Gaines said. “We’re like an aircraft carrier that doesn’t want to be turned. I’ve seen too much waste and I believe the state can live comfortably with the income coming in.” The economy and the state’s continuing budget woes provided an uneasy focus for the meeting, one of 10 town halls and coffee gatherings Gaines is holding this month in the sprawling 1st District. Gaines reiterated that he would continue his tough stance on avoiding tax increases. “There are issues we can work together on but others I’ll fight to the bitter end,” he said. Lowell Jarvis, a Placer County Water Agency director, expressed his concerns about the recently created Delta Stewardship Council and the possibility it would overstep authority on area-of-origin water rights. Gaines, a former Placer County supervisor, said he’s very worried about the council and the potential loss of county water. “There’s a huge push-pull between north and south,” Gaines said. “We ought to be at the table engaged in decisions on what happens to our water supply.” Auburn’s Robin Lee posed questions about suction dredging, which the state currently doesn’t allow. Gaines said he opposed the ban and wants to give the 3,400 suction gold dredgers in the state – some who have had claims for generations – a chance to continue what they’ve done for decades as long as it’s done in an environmentally sensitive way. Gaines showed the audience his wedding ring, which was fashioned by his dentist father-in-law partly in gold paid to him for work done by miners. “It’s part of our heritage in California,” Gaines said. Gaines also answered questions about everything from dissolving more state commissions (Gaines supports fewer state bodies) to redevelopment (Gaines sided with Democrats to eliminate the locally-administered agencies) to too much salt on highways during the winter (his staff will look into concerns). A receptive and polite audience peppered Gaines with questions for more than 90 minutes at the county Board of Supervisors chambers. Gaines will be back for more questions and observations for a community coffee from 9-10 a.m. Nov. 15 at Tsuda’s Café in Old Town Auburn. Penryn’s Travis Travnikar said he came away pleased with the meeting and Gaines’ response to questions. “He addressed our concerns and it was an excellent meeting,” Travnikar said. “If everyone works together, we can maybe straighten things out.”