California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to tax golf
Their anger is directed at the Republican governor's proposal to extend the state sales tax to cover more services, an idea that has surfaced in other states as they race to plug crippling budget deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research clearinghouse, predicts such deficits nationwide could reach $350 billion by 2011.
In California, Schwarzenegger wants to help close a nearly $42 billion budget deficit by taxing rounds of golf, auto repairs, veterinary care, amusement park and sporting event admissions and appliance and furniture repairs.
Service taxes in other states include levies on pet grooming, water well drilling, fur storage, massages, shoe repairs, swimming pool cleaning, taxidermy, and dating and diaper services. But that doesn't make the groups affected by Schwarzenegger's proposal feel any better.
'We're old and retired. We don't need any more taxes,' said Fred Mayers of Sacramento as he played golf recently at a public course in the state capital. 'The only luxury we have is playing golf. They can't charge us any more.'
Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, said more states could be looking at service taxes as they get deeper into legislative sessions.
'It's one of those things that's so politically difficult and controversial that it's usually one of the last proposals that's floated,' he said.
California already taxes some services, including gift wrapping, tuxedo rentals and video rentals for home use. But virtually every other state applies its sales tax to more services, said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a Sacramento think tank.
The tax on services is part of $14.3 billion in hikes Schwarzenegger has proposed to help close a budget deficit that's projected to total $41.6 billion over the next 17 months. He also is seeking $17.7 billion in spending cuts and $10 billion in additional borrowing.
In addition to the service tax, Schwarzenegger proposes hiking the sales tax by 1.5 percent through the end of 2011, boosting taxes on alcoholic drinks, increasing the vehicle registration fee by $12 and taxing companies that extract oil.
Local sales taxes in California range from 7.25 percent to 9.25 percent, varying from county to county and even from city to city. A 1.5 percentage point increase would boost the rate to nearly 10 percent in many areas of the state.
Republican lawmakers have refused for months to consider raising taxes but recently indicated a willingness to consider hikes if they're tied to tough spending controls.
Schwarzenegger and lawmakers have little time left to strike a deal. The state controller has said he will have to delay tax refunds and some other payments for 30 days starting Feb. 1 because of a cash shortage. The governor also has ordered tens of thousands of state employees to take two days off a month without pay, starting Feb. 6.
'There's no good time to raise taxes,' said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger's Department of Finance. 'This is not something that the governor is putting forward because he enjoys it.'
He said the six types of services Schwarzenegger is proposing to tax were picked because they involve businesses that commonly collect sales taxes on goods they sell and could quickly adjust.
The affected industry groups say they are being unfairly targeted and that similar businesses are exempt.
'You don't see a tax on movies,' said Bob Bouchier, executive director of the California Alliance for Golf. 'You don't see a tax on bowling. You don't see skiing. You don't see a tax on any other sport.'
The administration estimates that the service taxes would raise $1.4 billion through the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2010. Schwarzenegger wants to implement the taxes on appliance and furniture repairs, golf, veterinary care and vehicle repairs by March 1. The taxes on amusement park and sporting event tickets would kick in on April 1.
Opponents question whether the taxes would raise that much, saying they would result in layoffs and fewer customers.
'You're looking at a $50 increase on a $500 (repair) bill at a time when people are not buying new cars and instead are having their old cars repaired so they can keep them on the road to drive to work,' said Peter Welch, president of the California New Car Dealers Association.
'This is really going to hit people when they're down.'
Opponents also suggest that other increases, such as a boost in income taxes or restoration of the annual vehicle license fee that Schwarzenegger cut when he took office, would be less damaging.
Not everyone that would be affected is upset.
Sean Grace, a home remodeling contractor from the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove, said die-hard golfers will find a way to pay the tax if lawmakers approve it.
'Ten percent is not too much,' he said before slamming a long drive down the fifth fairway at Sacramento's Land Park golf course. 'You've got guys paying $100 (for green fees). What's another $10? They're going to find it somewhere.'
Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.
On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.
“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.
“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”
Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.
New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.
In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.
Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.
“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”
Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.
His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.
“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”
Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.
That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”
That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.
“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”
Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.
“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.
Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME
Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.
Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)
What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.
Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.
Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.
Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.
Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.
Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.