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Hallinan running to abolish state Board of Equalization
• Opponent is GOP’s Gaines

Tom Hallinan, a Ceres resident who is also the Ceres city attorney, is running for the District 1 seat on the California State Board of Equalization with the goal of abolishing it.

The Democrat is running against Ted Gaines of El Dorado Hills, a Republican California state senator.

The Board of Equalization is responsible for reviewing, equalizing, or adjusting property tax assessments, assessing taxes on insurers, and assessing/collecting excise taxes on alcoholic beverages. It also acts as the appellate body for corporate franchise and personal income tax appeals.

Hallinan, however, wants to see the board ended, not mended. In May he released an opinion that the BOE needs to be dissolved.

“There’s simply no reason for the state Board of Equalization (BOE) to exist in the 21st Century,” said Hallinan, who noted that Gov. Brown and the state Legislature stripped the agency of 90 percent of its functions, leaving the BOE with “merely overseeing the review and adjustment of property tax assessments which are conducted by its few remaining employees.”

“That is simply not a full-time job for these elected officials, and paying them for it is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars which could otherwise be used for schools and roads,” said Hallinan. He said he wants to work to convince the governor and Legislature that they should put a Constitutional amendment on the ballot asking voters to completely abolish the BOE.

“The Board of Equalization is the only elected state tax board in the country (most states have a Department of Revenue in its place). The BOE is an accident of history. It was created in 1879 to address a perception that landowners in foothill mining counties had bribed their local assessors, thereby shifting tax burdens to agricultural counties. That issue was addressed long ago, and there have been calls to eliminate the BOE since 1929. It has been an embarrassment for decades, and has become a soft-landing spot for mostly term limited politicians looking for another government paycheck and having nothing better to do.”

The Courier reached out to Gaines by phone and email for his views and he did not return either.

Hallinan also serves as chairman of the California Law Revision Commission, a state agency responsible for studying problem areas in California law and recommending needed reforms to the governor and Legislature. 

Hallinan was appointed to the Commission in 2015 by Gov. Jerry Brown. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the Lincoln Law School in Sacramento. He is a partner with Churchwell White LLP and has served as city/special district attorney for a dozen of local governmental agencies over the past 22 years. Active in the Central Valley City Attorney Association, Hallinan is the current Valley representative to the League of California Cities Legal Advocacy Committee.

Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties. Prior to his election to the Senate, Gaines served the 4th State Assembly District from 2006 to 2011. As a member of the Assembly, Ted authored legislation to cap the state’s spending and set aside money into a rainy-day reserve fund and has repeatedly introduced legislation to reduce the number of burdensome regulations on the state’s books and provide tax-relief for hard-working California families. 

Gaines has received an A grade from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association for nine consecutive years.

 and also annually receives top scores on the California Taxpayers Association’s Voting Record. In addition, he obtained a perfect «Job Creator» rating from the California Chamber of Commerce.