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Horton played large role in state budget surplus

OW Staff Writer | 5/29/2014, midnight

You’ve heard of the State Board of Equalization (BOE), but most California residents rarely peer into the daily responsibilities of this vital Sacramento panel. Jerome Horton is chairman of the body that is solely responsible for statewide tax administration and fee collection. Horton is running for reelection to the BOE fourth district, by far the largest in the state, comprising 73 of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County stretching from Agoura Hills, to La Habra, to Whittier and practically every town in between.

“I believe that tax payers should not pay a penny more than is required by law,” Horton said. “In that regard, the Board of Equalization should be a resource to assist with your voluntary compliance and also in helping you grow your business.”

The BOE administers about $53 billion in state sales and use tax, fuel, alcohol and tobacco taxes. The fees collected provide revenue for state government and essential funding for counties, cities and special districts who provide important services including public safety, environmental protection, health care and public education. The BOE is the nation’s only publicly elected tax commission. Next month, only Horton and George Runner (Second District) are eligible to run for re-election as members Betty Yee (First District), Michelle Park Steel (Third District) and State Controller John Chiang will leave office in January 2015 because of term limits.

Horton has a background in accounting, finance and real estate investments and offers more than two decades of experience in business law and public policy; he is a former member of the California State Assembly and the Inglewood City Council. His appointment in 2009 to the BOE made him the first African American to serve and only the third Black California Constitutional Officer.

This month, Horton issued praise to Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised state budget: “Thanks to California’s hard working business owners and employees, and the leadership of Governor Brown, our state budget surplus will help us pay down debt and save for the future, while at the same time, investing in our schools and healthcare system and providing most state employees a well-deserved two-percent cost-of-living pay increase.”

Horton helped create the board’s “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” meant to ensure that state taxpayers can rely on a fair and transparent process in knowing where their tax money goes. He initiated the formation of the Joint Enforcement Criminal Tax Force which targets organized crime operations often active in the so-called “underground economy.” Horton’s legislation is credited with recapturing hundreds of millions of dollars in unreported business taxes; his efforts have led to the prosecution of illegal business operators and have helped remove hundreds of tons of illegal cigarettes, “knock off” apparel and other illegal contraband off local streets.

As an active member of the Association of California State Supervisors as well as the Service Employees International Union, Horton formerly served with the California State Work Force Investment Board and the California Historical and Cultural Endowment Board, working with the latter commission to help develop workforce training, career advancement and promoting cultural awareness and empowerment. Horton once served on the California Medical Assistance Commission, an agency charged with improving healthcare options for Californians. He has also worked with several nonprofit organizations such as the United Job Creation Coalition and the California Education Solution.