The Los Angeles Times, California GOP Legislators Blocked 20 Bills After Demands Were Unmet:
Republicans in the Senate blocked more than 20 bills -- all needing GOP votes to pass, many approved by the lower house with bipartisan or near-unanimous support -- to leverage a trio of unrelated demands. Chief among those was the elimination of a program that allowed mostly low-income Californians to have the state do their tax returns free, something the maker of TurboTax has been trying to achieve for years. ...
[Senate leader Darrell] Steinberg did not dispute that he promised Republicans that the Senate would consider scrapping ReadyReturn, the state tax program, which in the end the upper house refused to do. But Steinberg still bristled at the GOP obstruction.
"The inside political game here does not matter to the people," he said. It matters a great deal to interest groups.
Intuit, which makes TurboTax, has spent $618,000 on lobbying in Sacramento since 2007 and donated to the campaigns of 29 of the 40 state senators since 2005. In 2006, the company spent $1 million trying to elect Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) as state controller. He lost that race but is now a senator who took part in Friday's blockade.
Strickland said he did not see any conflict of interest in holding out for the dismantling of ReadyReturn. "I've always thought it was wrong to use taxpayer dollars to compete with private enterprise," he said.
Calitics, Intuit Aims to Kill Californians:
Intuit makes the popular tax software, TurboTax. You'll see that they give away the federal software, but then charge $30.95 to buy each state version that you need. It's like the drug dealer giving away the first hit. And ReadyReturn, which is a great program that Steve Westly championed, got in the way. It allowed Californians with relatively simple taxes to basically fill in most of the data that is needed on the Form 540. It made short work of the process and made people question why they would pay $31 for something that basically does nothing.
TurboTax sucks blood from the population. It thrives on taxes being confusing, and they are opposed to anything that would simplify them. ... Just like the drug dealer doesn't want drugs legalized, Intuit doesn't want taxes made easy.
(Hat Tip: David Sweet.)