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Restructure taxes, pensions

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California faces two stark realities: 1) the imperative for comprehensive pension reform, and 2) the imperative for a structural tax reform. Why? Our state legislative analyst predicts the budget deficit is $17 billion, not the $15.7 (billion) claimed by Brown. Fueling the deficit is a $112 billion hole in California?s state pension system, according to a study by the Pew Research Group. Adding to the misery is another study done by Stanford, that reveals two dozen of our city and county governments face a combined $135.7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. This builds a strong case for comprehensive pension reform. The second imperative implies a ?simple, fair, revenue-neutral flat tax? advocated by Arthur Laffer, formerly a member of President Reagan?s Economic Policy Board. ?A mere 0.3 percent of the wealthy in California pay more than 31 percent of the state?s personal income taxes. Between 1992 and 2008 ? this has driven 869,000 tax filers out of the state, taking their tax payments, ($500 billion), their businesses and the jobs they create with them,? he claims. ?Scrapping California?s Byzantine tax code would reduce volatility, promote growth and jobs and produce the same, if not more, revenue.? We Californians have a legislature that is, to put it kindly, underwhelming in its stewardship of our money. And few believe the Good Tooth Fairy is going to slip money under the pillow of our governor during the dead of night. Higher taxes, without pension and structural tax reform, will not rescue California. Would you buy stock in a mismanaged, failing company begging for a bailout? BILL HARDER, Auburn