In 2009, Goddard Claussen/West was retained by California business leaders to manage an education and outreach effort to hold the line against new and expanded taxes, especially those that would damage business and kill jobs. Californians Against Higher Taxes (CAHT) -- a coalition of small businesses, taxpayers, large employers, local chambers and consumers -- was organized to advocate, inform and educate on the fact that higher taxes would only further damage California’s economic recovery.
CAHT's work began in the summer of 2009 during legislative budget negotiations. CAHT communicated to voters and opinion leaders through targeted radio and direct mail, combined with aggressive media outreach and coalition building. CAHT effectively countered the activities of the spending lobby in Sacramento as they attempted to highlight the “pain of cuts” and make the case that new revenue was needed. CAHT negated those efforts and no new taxes targeted at business were enacted that year. The 2009 efforts sent an unmistakable message to lawmakers that Californians could not afford new or higher taxes on top of the $8 billion per year broad based tax increases passed earlier in 2009.
In 2010, the business community faced many of the same threats as the previous year including billion dollar deficits and proposals to raise $40 billion in new taxes, primarily on business. The spending lobby again attempted to position this as taxing business to pay for schools and other services. CAHT again ramped up its efforts and recruited additional coalition members expanding our base across the state. In addition to a statewide effort, CAHT focused many of its activities in legislative districts of both friends and foes.
CAHT's success in 2010 relied heavily on a multi-faceted communications program activating voters who attended rallies, contacted legislators, participated in press events and many other activities to send a clear message to policymakers that any effort to raise taxes that threatened business and jobs would be met with strong opposition. Tactics included successful events such as “Telegrams from Taxpayers,” which sent thousands of constituents’ signatures on petitions to various legislative offices with the message, “More Jobs, Not Higher Taxes.” CAHT also sponsored a number of press tours and conferences where local businesses and community leaders said “enough is enough” to their representatives in Sacramento. CAHT was once again successful in that no tax increases were imposed on Californians in 2010.
Californians Against Higher Taxes is an ongoing effort and will launch an aggressive effort in 2011 to continue educating the public, media and policymakers that Californians cannot afford higher taxes. CAHT’s coalition currently consists of over 200 statewide organizations and 3,500 individuals.