How California taxpayers weathered the pandemic

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California taxes are through the roof - ENB
Source: Orange County Register

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While few Californians weathered the pandemic unscathed, taxpayers took a particularly heavy hit, getting stuck for the long-term cost of relief payments, bailouts and fraud while losing earnings during the “two weeks to flatten the curve” that turned into two years.

If we had known in early 2020 what we now know, it is doubtful we would have shut down the economy as tightly as we did, and we certainly would have taken greater caution about our response to school closures and educating our children. Only now are we starting to comprehend that damage to child development, socialization and learning.

Taxpayers also took a hit by having to pay taxes and fees for services not received. Local governments required restaurants to continue to pay various licensing fees even when they were forbidden to be open for business. Parks, libraries and other public venues were closed to the public while citizens continued to get the tax bill to support those same facilities. Efforts by taxpayers and businesses to seek temporary relief from government exactions were mostly met with open hostility, while members of public-sector unions continued to receive paychecks and, in some cases, got raises even when they weren’t going to work.

But by far the biggest hit on California taxpayers during the pandemic was the jaw-dropping levels of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. On Gov. Gavin Newsom’s watch, the Employment Development Department (EDD) failed to process a backlog of claims for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Californians while sending out as much as $30 billion in unemployment benefits for phony claims, including fraudulent claims paid to death row inmates.

What is particularly galling about the EDD fraud is that the state had plenty of warning. In May 2020, the United States Secret Service alerted EDD that organized criminals were exploiting weaknesses in their systems to steal taxpayer monies. But nothing was done.

Then there is the scandal of costly no-bid contracts, including one for nearly $1 billion with a China-based firm for N95 masks that even a senior Democratic lawmaker called “murky.”

The state’s handling of public funds during the pandemic was the subject of a “High Risk Audit Report” last August by then-state auditor Elaine Howle. The report concluded that billions of dollars were wasted by giving money to people who were not entitled to receive the funds, while many people who needed relief from the pandemic were not getting it.

Source: Orange County Register

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About Stu Turley 2288 Articles
Stuart Turley is President and CEO of Sandstone Group, a top energy data, and finance consultancy working with companies all throughout the energy value chain. Sandstone helps both small and large-cap energy companies to develop customized applications and manage data workflows/integration throughout the entire business. With experience in implementing enterprise networks, supercomputers, and cellular tower solutions, Sandstone has become a trusted source and advisor in this space. Stuart has led the “Total Corporate Digital Integration” platform at Sandstone and works with Sandstone clients to help integrate all aspects of modern digital business. He is also the Executive Publisher of, the best source for 24/7 energy news coverage and is the Co-Host of the energy news video and Podcast Energy News Beat. Stuart is on Board Member of ASN Productions, DI Communities Stuart is guided by over 30 years of business management experience, having successfully built and help sell multiple small and medium businesses while consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Oklahoma City University.