Competing tax measures could jeopardize Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot initiative
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative could face an uphill battle to gain voter approval if competing tax measures are placed on next November’s ballot.
Brown filed a ballot measure earlier this month to temporarily increase sales and income taxes to avoid deeper cuts to education and public safety programs as the state faces an estimated $13 billion deficit next year.
“I think this is going to be a very difficult campaign to win the revenues,” said Brown.
Complicating matters for Brown are the numerous competing ballot initiatives seeking to raise taxes to fund the state’s public education programs. As of December, they include:
- Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment Act
- The Higher Education, Schools, Public Safety and Health Care Preservation Act
- Millionaires Tax to Restore Funding for Education and Essential Services Act of 2012
- Tax to Fund Free State Resident Tuition at UC and CSU
- Tax on Oil and Natural Gas, Revenues to Education
Although a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that six out of ten voters would support Brown’s tax initiative, the numerous tax measures could potentially confuse and frazzle voters.
Brown, who has been in talks with the various proponents, said he hopes to have a clear field for his tax initiative.
“We’re not there yet. In fact, if it creates chaos and confusion, that could be difficult [to win],” said Brown.
Notwithstanding the competing ballot measures, Brown’s tax initiative will also come under attack by anti-tax and anti-government spending groups such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Taxpayers Association, and the Small Business Action Committee. In fact, the three groups together have filed the Government Spending Limit Act of 2012 that would impose spending caps and require surplus tax revenues to go toward paying down the state’s debts. Brown said the proposed spending caps would lead to even deeper cuts.
California’s education, public safety, health care, and social services programs have seen more than $56 billion in cuts over the last four years. These programs will suffer another $1 trillion in trigger cuts beginning in January because state tax revenues fell short of the budget requirements. With a projected $13 billion deficit, the same programs will almost certainly see another round of steep cuts in the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget. If voters reject Brown’s tax initiative next November, then billions more in trigger cuts will take effect starting in January 2013.
“The people of California are saying they don’t want cuts. They’re also expressing reservations about taxes. So when that public dissonance and problem [is there], we ought to resolve it by a vote,” said Brown. “People can make a choice, and I think it’s a difficult choice.”
Gov. Brown’s tax initiative
If approved by voters, the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 (PDF) will generate an estimated $7 billion by raising the sales tax by 1/2 cent and income taxes for people making more than $250,000. The tax increases will expire after five years.
The revenues generated will fund local schools, community colleges, and the public safety realignment, which will shift more responsibilities for overseeing parolees and non-violent felons to local governments and help the state fix its severely overcrowded prisons.
Ballot initiatives to increase taxes:
- Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 (PDF)
- Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment Act (PDF)
- The Higher Education, Schools, Public Safety and Health Care Preservation Act (PDF)
- Millionaires Tax to Restore Funding for Education and Essential Services Act of 2012 (PDF)
- Tax to Fund Free State Resident Tuition at UC and CSU (PDF)
- Tax on Oil and Natural Gas, Revenues to Education (PDF)
Ballot initiative to cap state spending:
- Public Policy Institute of California: Most Favor Governor’s Tax Proposal
- Our Children Our Future 2012 campaign’s website
- Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Releases Statement on Split Roll Measure Filed Today
- California Taxpayers Association: Government Spending Limit Act of 2012 Filed for November Ballot (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: CA Gov. Jerry Brown files tax initiative to avoid deeper cuts to education & public safety
- WhatTheFolly.com: California hit with $1 billion trigger cuts
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Q&A with Gov. Jerry Brown on the trigger cuts to the 2011-12 state budget
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: CA Gov. Jerry Brown’s statement on the $1 billion state budget trigger cuts
Category: Advocacy, Analysis, Commentary, Criminal Justice, Current Events, Economy, Election 2012, Government, Health care, Local, News, Politics, Social Services, State, Tax Dollars at Work, Tax Policies, U.S. · Tags: balanced budget, ballot initiative, ballot measure, budget, California, California governor, California State University, CalTax, community colleges, deficit, deficit reduction, Democrats, drastic budget cuts, Education, Fiscal Conservative, Fiscal Responsibility, funding, GOP, Gov. Jerry Brown, government funding, government spending, high deficits, higher education, Howard Jarvis, Jerry Brown, natural gas, oil, prison, prison overcrowding, Public Policy Institute, public safety, public school education, Realignment, reduce deficit, Republican, Republican Party, spending caps, spending cuts, state budget, state prison, tax, tax extensions, tax increase, tax increases, taxes, taxpayers, temporary tax extensions, U.S., United States, University of California