Assemblyman Brian Nestande has taken a bold and surprising stance, breaking from the Republican majority by supporting a bill that would end a $1 billion tax break for out-of-state businesses.
The bill would negate an agreement reached during negotiations in 2009 to persuade Republicans to approve the budget. That deal allowed national and multinational corporations to calculate taxes on sales, property and payroll in the state. Assembly Bill 1500 would return to a formula based only on sales, known as the uniform tax policy.
The Palm Desert Republican became the deciding vote in the Assembly for AB 1500, the Middle Class Scholarship Act. His yes vote sent the bill to the Senate. Nestande resigned as chairman of the Assembly Republican Caucus, the No. 2 position in the party. He understood he would have to do so when he cast this vote.
The Desert Sun respects Nestande for standing up to likely negative reactions from his Republican colleagues. He may have resigned the No.
2 position in the party, but in our mind he has established himself as the No. 1 leader of the California Assembly. His actions are driven by what he feels is best for California and he is willing to break party lines to do it.
We editorialized against AB 1500, because we wouldn't want the bill to block the surge in foreign investment in Riverside County. Nestande voted against the bill in the Revenue and Taxation Committee, but reversed course after talking to the California Business Roundtable, which represents 21 of the state's largest businesses. He was convinced that it would be a boost to California-based businesses.
We're convinced, too.
Tapping into a potential $1 billion pool for scholarships also would have a long-term economic impact. The author, Assembly Speaker John Pérez, points out that since 2004, student fees at the California State University have increased by 191 percent, to $5,970 a year. University of California climbed 145 percent, to $12,192.
Middle-class California college students certainly need the help.
Nestande also sees it as an opportunity to negotiate for regulatory reforms that would help local businesses. He wants to streamline the state's environmental review process.
“I will be in the room when these changes are negotiated,” Nestande said.
If those reforms don't accompany the bill when it returns to the Assembly, he'll vote against it.
If Nestande's independent move can ease the regulatory burden on local business, boost California-based companies and help more students to go college, it will have been a worthwhile departure from the party line.
Here's a representative who is doing what he thinks is right and is putting his job and reputation on the line. That's leadership. That's bold. That's what is needed to get this great state moving in the right direction.