The Two Faces of California’s Steve Poizner

-By Warner Todd Huston

As the next Governor of California gears up his – or her – campaign we are witnessing a near complete collapse of state government in the Golden State. It is a situation that the next governor will be faced with immediately, leaving not a second to celebrate victory.

There are some obvious solutions to what ails California: lower taxes, an end to the opulent welfare state, cutting off the free ride for illegals, an end to the free ride that unelected, overly powerful state employees unions have been allowed to attain, and the like, but the question is do any of the candidates on the Republican side have the backbone for the tough decisions that will have to be made before it’s too late… if it isn’t already.

When I first began to look at California’s GOP candidates for governor, I was heartened by the fact that the one Republican elected to state wide office had thrown his hat in the ring. Unfortunately, the closer I look at State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, the more like a tax and spend Democrat he appears. It is becoming increasingly clear that Poizner does not represent the right direction for California, but more of the same failed liberal policies that have destroyed the state.

An economic truism, proven repeatedly, is that when a government needs income, increasing taxes does not result in a higher take for the treasury. In fact, just the opposite occurs. A recurring pattern shows that individual tax breaks result in more disposable income and increased economic activity. Lowering taxes for businesses results in expansion, hiring, and success. It is a truth that is simply inarguable.

So, the next governor must at the very least ensure that taxes for individuals and businesses are not hiked beyond their ability to keep the state’s economy rolling. Looking over Poizner’s long history of supporting tax hikes, his intimate connection to unions and his cozy relationship with tax and spend liberals I am not reassured that he would be the sort of Republican that would institute growth programs that might help California get out of its self-imposed, liberal induced death spiral. In fact, just the opposite may be true.

As evidence I point to Commissioner Poizner’s repeated support and donation of large sums of money to anti-Prop 13 ballot measures — Proposition 13 being the measure that caps property taxes for Californians and also requires a two-thirds majority to increase them. In 2001, Poizner founded and served on the board of directors of an organization named EdVoice whose stated goal is “education reform.” One of those “reforms,” however, seems to be an interest in circumventing Prop 13 and raising property taxes so that the education establishment in California can realize more tax money for its use. Like many tax and spend liberals, “reform” for EdVoice seems to equate to an assumption that throwing more tax money at a failed system fixes it.

Because EdVoice is so interested in increasing the money for available education, the group’s PAC has a long tradition of lop-sided donations to California Democrats. In fact, a review of EdVoice’s donations available at the CA Sec. of State’s office reveals a 90+% donation rate to Democrats – most of whom are also supported by the powerful education union the California Teachers Association. (Here is a search of some recent EdVoice donations at the CA Sec of State’s office, and another from Berkeley.)

Remember, Poizner claims to be a Republican. Yet before he decided to run for statewide office he had little history of helping other Republicans or supporting Republican measures.

Back in 2004, Poizner raised hackles by again supporting an anti-prop 13 measure. Then Poizner supported a measure that lowered the two-thirds taxpayer approval threshold enshrined in tradition and law to 55% for school bonds. This support for higher taxes caused the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to launch a campaign against Mr. Poizner as he ran for the 21st State Assembly seat in 2004. HJTA president Jon Coupal sent out a mailing urging voters to “withhold your vote from Mr. Steve Poizner” because of his support for higher property taxes. Poizner’s involvement in another failed measure to institute a parcel tax on every California homeowner seemed to be his strongest expression at the time of his disdain for the average taxpayer.

So what is Poizner saying now about prop 13? Well, today now that he is running for the GOP nomination for governor, suddenly we find a Steve Poizner that has found a nouveau respect for prop 13. On July 10, for instance, a former UCLA chancellor asked the California Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the two-thirds requirement to raise property taxes. Poizner immediately put out a press release declaring this effort “frivolous.”

Said the release, “The lawsuit challenging the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes is frivolous and should be dismissed immediately. We have to do more to protect the rights of California’s taxpayers. The last thing we need is to make it easier for Sacramento to raise taxes on working Californians who are already over-taxed.”

That is a strong statement in favor of prop 13, isn’t it? But how does it square with his nearly 10-year-history of joining efforts to undermine prop 13?

It is awfully easy to believe that Poizner’s new found respect for the taxpayers he’s been trying to burden with higher taxes for nearly a decade is merely a campaign tactic meant to get him elected. It is very hard to believe his sudden transformation form tax hiker to staunch anti-tax man, don’t you think?

(Cross posted at
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as,, Human Events Magazine,,, New Media Journal, Men’s News Daily and the New Media Alliance among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

Fair Use: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site/blog for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001