Brian Nestande, CA Republican, Resigns As Chair After Voting With Democrats To Increase Taxes

08/15/2012 07:18 pm ET | Updated Aug 15, 2012
AP

Another Republican legislator is paying the price for voting with the other side of the aisle.

California Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) committed the ultimate Republican sin and voted with Democrats to "increase taxes" with AB 1500 Monday. Less than 24 hours later, he stepped down as Republican Caucus Chair.

Nestande declined to say whether he chose to step down or was asked to by the Republican Assembly leader Connie Conway. Instead, he told the Sacramento Bee, "I understood the ramifications when I took the vote."

The assemblyman, along with assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who recently left the Republican Party to become an independent, was the only non-Democrat to vote for the bill. Nestande said his was the deciding vote, giving Democrats the two-thirds majority they needed to send the bill on to the Senate.

The bill would force out-of-state businesses to pay taxes based on their income in California and would scrap 2009 legislation that gives them the option of calculating their tax payment based on property or sales. Republicans say the bill would make California less friendly to national corporations and threaten existing jobs.

Nestande commented about his vote to the Desert Sun: “We [Republicans] have a mantra: no new taxes for anything." He added, "They call it a tax increase. I call it closing a tax loophole."

Bloggers have accused Conway of forcing Nestande out as retaliation and criticize the already-tiny Republican party for standing for "obstruction rather than progress."

They also speculate whether Nestande will leave the party to become an Independent, as Fletcher did earlier this year over what he called the "petty games" of hyper-partisan politics. The California Republican Party's numbers are currently at post-Watergate lows, according to the California Majority Report.

Nestande issued the following statement Tuesday after he stepped down as chair:

Today I am stepping down as Republican Caucus Chair. I cast a vote yesterday as the only Republican to level the playing field for California businesses, so we have the same corporate tax policy as Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana, Utah, and 10 other states. I specifically named those states because they have Republican Governors that are considered leaders in our party today. They gave their home-based corporations an advantage and so should we.

That is why the California Business Roundtable supported this vote, which includes 21 of the largest California-based companies. I put forward my vote in good faith that, in its final form, this bill will be part of a comprehensive regulatory reform package to put Californians back to work. With my vote yesterday I decided to take the side of my constituents and California businesses.

The bill now awaits action in the Senate, where Republican legislators have vowed to block Democrats from reaching the two-thirds majority vote they need to send it to the governor, who has promised to sign it. If the bill passes, it would generate an additional $1 billion per year that would be used for college scholarships.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, who has made the bill a top priority this year, issued a statement about Nestande after he announced his resignation: "I deeply respect the fact that his [Nestande's] votes reflect his principles… I believe this kind of leadership should be practiced by every member of every party."

Fletcher claimed to the San Francisco Chronicle that Nestande was ousted. "By retaliating and removing [Nestande] as caucus chair, the California Republican Party has once again demonstrated why it is the party of 'no.'"

He continued, "It is no wonder they are seen as a party with no ideas, no leadership and no vision... This reaffirms why I, and hundreds of thousands of Californians, have left the Republican Party."

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