Valley Voices

Andy Vidak: A despicable health care tax hike scheme

Jennifer Kent, director of the Department of Health Care Services, answers questions about a bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, right, to restructure California’s health plan taxes during a hearing Feb. 10 in Sacramento. The measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown would impose a tax on managed care health plans to meet federal law and allow California to receive $1.35 billion in federal funding for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance plan for the poor.
Jennifer Kent, director of the Department of Health Care Services, answers questions about a bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, right, to restructure California’s health plan taxes during a hearing Feb. 10 in Sacramento. The measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown would impose a tax on managed care health plans to meet federal law and allow California to receive $1.35 billion in federal funding for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance plan for the poor. The Associated Press

The Fresno Bee published an editorial Feb. 25 urging me to vote for a health care tax hike.

That’s the wrong thing to do.

I didn’t get elected to raise taxes. Californians are already taxed enough, with some of the highest taxes in the nation. The state doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending-priority problem.

We can and should be increasing funding to provide needed programs, services and caregivers for the developmentally disabled in our state, but we don’t need a tax hike to do it.

Earlier this month, I joined a bipartisan coalition of 42 legislators that urged the governor and majority party leaders to include more funding for the Department of Developmental Services in the 2016-17 budget.

Instead, the governor and majority party leaders used the developmentally disabled community as a pawn in their tax-hike scheme. They need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes, so they intentionally cut hundreds of millions of dollars for the developmentally disabled to pressure legislators into voting for this health care tax hike.

That’s despicable.

What’s even more despicable is that they’re holding DDS funding hostage to force a tax hike that has resulted in the devastating reduction of vital services and the closure of programs and centers that help the developmentally disabled thrive and live independent lives.

The Bee’s editorial stated that there’s “political cover” to vote for this tax hike because several big organizations support or are neutral on the scheme. That may work for some, but not for me. I’m serving in Sacramento to do what’s right for the people of the Central Valley. If it’s the wrong thing to do, I won’t vote for it.

To heck with political cover.

We are being promised that this health care tax hike won’t jack up health insurance rates. I’ve served in the Senate long enough to see promises – made to make deals – broken. Folks in my district already struggle to obtain and access health care, so I refuse to vote for a tax hike that will most likely increase the cost of their health care premiums.

The right thing to do is vote for funding for the developmentally disabled, which I will do. The wrong thing to do is to vote for a tax hike that will increase health care costs for Valley families, which I won’t do.

Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, represents the 14th District, which includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties.

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